Karl-Anthony Towns snagged the offensive rebound over the head of Miami's Jimmy Butler, and as he struggled to get his footing in the paint, he threw a lob to Rudy Gobert. Mind you, that happened with a minute left and put the Timberwolves up by three. The 17-point comeback on the road was almost complete.
The NBA is not how it used to be; everyone is friends with everyone. This is no longer the league of old, where no one was friendly with anyone on another team. Everyone hangs out in the offseason, and that's fine, but it is a vastly different aspect of the game.
But, on Monday night, when the Minnesota Timberwolves were scheduled to take on the Miami Heat on the road, everyone knew it wasn't going to be a "buddy-buddy" game. They were running into an old friend, one that was previously on the Timberwolves. And, if you have been following the NBA for a bit now, you know where the rest of the story goes.
Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat's best player, was once that for the Timberwolves. He was supposed to be a mentor for Karl-Anthony Towns and a leader for the Wolves, as they were a young team outside of Butler. And, he was all of those things until he wasn't. Butler had the practice situation, and that's pretty much where it all ended.
That rebound and pass was a high-IQ play, one that I can't say for sure KAT would have made a few years ago. He has certainly matured in terms of his game, as I'm sure he has as a person.
It's been five years now since the infamous practice session that saw Butler take over with the backup players. Towns didn't really do anything then, as he was just a young 22-year-old still trying to figure out the league. It wasn't his place to stand up to Butler while he was cussing everyone out in practice.
But on Monday night, he got his get-back, although, if you ask him, he'll just use the old veteran saying.
"It's always fun to win. It doesn't matter who you play, it's always fun to win," Towns told Alan Horton of Wolves Radio after the game. "For us to come out here, do what we did, and find a way to win; I'm so proud of us for staying composed."
It's only about winning now. The days of old where the Timberwolves don't compete are over, at least for a little while. They may not have Butler anymore, who, make no mistake about it, is still an amazing player and one of the best in the league, but they do have their own stars.
The personalities don't clash, though. In fact, they fit perfectly. No ego. No complaining. Nothing but playing winning basketball.
"We both put our pride to the side and just want to win. That's the main thing," Edwards said after beating the Pacers a few days ago. "A lot of people try to put us against each other. We talk more than a lot of people think."
Maybe the Butler situation happened for the better. Maybe that is what helped the Timberwolves realize that they needed to be better. You can say a bunch of ifs, ands, or buts, but the reality is that they are doing much better without Butler now. This team is legit.
This isn't the first time the two sides have played each other since, either. In the 2020-2021 season, KAT and Butler exchanged words at the end of a game. Towns was asked about what was said, and his teammate came to his defense immediately.
"Man, they are grown men, dog," Edwards said over a Zoom press conference. "They were just talking, having a regular conversation if you ask me."
Of course, Edwards has shared his own words with Butler. About two years ago, Edwards was being guarded by Butler; Edwards was called for a travel, and Butler ripped the ball from Edwards' hands. Ant did not like that, so he gave him a little shove, and the two started jawing towards one another. They were just having a regular conversation, though, if you ask me.
That situation was a bit different, though, because several plays later, Anthony Edwards ended up dunking on Gabe Vincent and almost clearing him completely. That's the viral situation where you can see Butler on the bench in the background, almost in awe of what Edwards did.
There will always be animosity there between the Timberwolves and Butler, at least as long as Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are on the team. But this team showed a fight Monday night that previous teams wouldn't have shown. They rallied down from 17 points on the road and finished the game off in style.
This team plays for one another.
"We're all we've got at the end of the day," Towns told reporters after the game. "I can tell you that from first-hand experience, being here. I just appreciate when you've got someone like that who's on your side, and the teammates all back you up. Especially with what I've been through, it means a lot."
The Timberwolves are now 20-5 and have the most wins through 25 games in their franchise's history. They will look to take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. It may be time to say the Timberwolves are the best team in the NBA.