Minnesota: It’s Not Really So Bad

I’ve never been accused of suffering from an inferiority complex, which makes living in Minnesota a bid odd. Minnesotans tend to be schizoid: becomingly modest about their state in public, while at the same time convinced that our inherent wonderfulness is so obvious that people will flock here no matter how high we raise our taxes. Actually, of course, people have never exactly flocked to Minnesota, in part because of our challenging climate. Why do you think it is that so many Minnesotans are descended from people who grew up in Norway, Sweden and Finland?

Minnesotans’ defensiveness about their state was notoriously exemplified by a big sign in the Metrodome, down the right field line, that said “We Like It Here.” That prompted endless groans until it was finally, and mercifully, removed. Still, the defensiveness remains.

One of the billions of the earth’s citizens who doesn’t seem especially eager to become a Minnesotan is Ricky Rubio. Rubio, if you haven’t heard of him, is an 18-year-old Spaniard who has been playing professional basketball since he was 14. Two years ago, he wowed Americans like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James in international competition. As a passer–but not, significantly, as a shooter–he has been compared to Pete Maravich. The kid is good:

The NBA draft was held yesterday. Rubio was by far the most charismatic player in the pool, but he slipped to number five, where the Minnesota Timberwolves selected him with the first of their four first round choices. That doesn’t mean, of course, that he will ever play here. Within minutes after the Wolves made their selection, Rubio’s father said that he would likely stay in Spain for another year or two. The Wolves’ general manager said that was OK, he is happy to wait.

New York basketball fans–who are quite a bit more numerous than their Minnesota counterparts–seem to think that Rubio is destined to be a Knick. They could be right. Somewhat weirdly, the Wolves chose another point guard, Jonny Flynn of Syracuse, with the number six pick in the first round, which they also owned. Our new GM swore that he would be delighted to play Rubio and Flynn together, but it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Wolves don’t seriously expect Rubio to sign with them. More likely, he is trade bait for a deal with a more glamorous franchise.

That, of course, is nothing new for Minnesota. Ricky Rubio was quoted as saying that he didn’t know anything about the state except that it is very cold. Many Americans share the same limited impression. But it isn’t cold all the time. This time of year, Minnesota is hard to beat.

For one thing, our days are really, really long. I got up today and caught up on the news in preparation for the radio show. I was on the air from 11 to 1 central and then worked on our garden. This is an extraordinarily fertile part of the world; these delphiniums are six feet tall:

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After a few hours of gardening in the hot sun, my wife and I took it easy:

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It’s now 9:00 p.m., and still daylight. So, Ricky: don’t be too quick to dis Minnesota. You might, after all, like it here.

PAUL adds: The problem is that Rubio wouldn’t be in Minnesota this time of year, but rather during the basketball season. Maybe if he were a baseball player. . .

By the way, Minnesota obtained the pick with which they took Rubio from the Washington Wizards. In exchange we got Randy Foye, an average player (42 percent from the field in his career) with a chance to be good and Mike Miller who used to be good but now is average (10 points per game last year).

On the other hand, the Wizards were able to unload Etan Thomas, contributor to the Huffington Post but not the Wiz, and his large contract. So how bad of a deal can it be?

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