T-wolves promote ‘Bruise Brothers’ for All-Star Game
MINNEAPOLIS — From its cellophane outer casing to the smell of ink when it’s removed from its cardboard cover, it possesses the authentic feel of a late-1970s vinyl record album.
But this isn’t some limited-edition audio gem locked away in a baby boomer’s basement. This is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ primary plug for doubling their 2014 NBA All-Star Game dividends.
Channeling memories of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s famous Saturday Night Live skit-turned music act-turned hit 1980s film, the Timberwolves created and distributed a double-sided album dubbed "The Bruise Brothers: All-Star Edition." The cover features Blues Brothers-inspired black-and-white renderings of big men Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, whom the franchise hopes to send to New Orleans together next month.
Fans voted in Love as a Western Conference starter. But now president of basketball operations Flip Saunders is lobbying hard for Pekovic to join him Feb. 16 at New Orleans Arena.
But he’s not the only entity making noise.
Shipped out to the Western Conference coaches — who will vote for the All-Star Game’s reserves — and members of the media, the Bruise Brothers records feature actual songs but fantastical track names such as "Stay Outta My Lane," "Be My Screen," and "It Was Only a Pek." One side of the vinyl is labeled "Side 42" for Love’s jersey number, while "Side 14" is dedicated to Pekovic.
The song lengths correspond to a stat line posted by either player this season. For example, "You’re the Outlet To My Heart" on Side 42 is listed as 36 minutes, 11 seconds long (Pink Floyd would be proud).
Love scored 36 points and pulled down 11 rebounds Dec. 30 in a loss to Dallas.
The albums sent to coaches include a letter from Saunders, who maintains that under the old All-Star voting format, Pekovic would be a shoo-in for inclusion. But fans and coaches no longer vote for five separate spots; simply backcourt and frontcourt players, regardless of position.
"What is happening without much fanfare is the emergence of Nikola Pekovic as one of the top centers in the NBA," Saunders writes in the letter. "If you truly want the best players in the Western Conference represented in New Orleans, I hope youâll consider voting for Nikola Pekovic."
The records were sent to coaches Friday to be delivered Saturday. The league will announce All-Star reserves Thursday in a 6 p.m. TNT broadcast special.
Even in the wake of such a creative marketing campaign, Pekovic faces stiff competition to make the cut. Neither Houston’s Dwight Horward, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins nor the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan were voted in as starters, and it’s almost impossible to imagine the coaches selecting a center at all three frontcourt spots available to them.
The ballot does include two "Wild Card" slots, and Pekovic’s numbers certainly render him worthy of consideration somewhere in the fold. As pointed out in a poster that comes with the Bruise Brothers album, the 6-foot-11, 285-pound center leads the league in second-chance scoring and points in the paint. His 18 points per game rank second among NBA centers.
Pekovic’s chances may have taken a blow in Monday’s victory at Chicago, however. He left six minutes into the game with a sore right Achilles and didn’t return.
Love’s place in his third All-Star appearance has been set since Thursday, when he was shocked to learn he’d jumped Howard to nab the West’s final starting spot. Love’s 37 double-doubles lead the league, and he’s on pace to become the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975-76 to average 25 or more points, 13 or more rebounds and four or more assists per game for an entire season.
Together, the "duet" of Love and Pekovic has more individual 20-point, 10-rebound games, double-doubles and second-chance points per game than any other league duo.
And even if this latest push to see the Timberwolves represented at the All-Star Game fails, Love and Pekovic have their tandem nickname forever enshrined in bona fide, unadulterated vinyl.
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