'Big Balls' dance cost the Minnesota Timberwolves an NBA title

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The Minnesota Timberwolves had an outstanding basketball squad in the early 2000's centered around Kevin Garnett who was dubbed the 'Big Ticket' at the time, however their most prosperous years were left without an NBA Title.

In the 2003/04 season the Timberwolves held the best record in the Western Conference and many believed it would the year the franchise could break through and lift the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Unfortunately that didn't happen as Minnesota were discarded from the Western Conference Finals by the Los Angeles Lakers, Flip Saunders was the head coach of that T-Wolves squad and he believes an odd celebration dance was the reason behind their failure.

The Timberwolves earned top spot in the Western Conference behind the brilliant combination of Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, they were elevated to an 58-24 record and were heavily favoured come playoff time.

Minnesota rolled past the Denver Nuggets in the opening round after winning the series in five games, they would then meet the Sacramento Kings in a gruelling series that went all seven games with the T-Wolves finally prevailing, however the Western Conference Finals ended in defeat in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

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Big Balls dance cost them

Flip Saunders has now revealed what he believes was the key to the series with the Lakers and why they were able to overcome his Timberwolves squad, it was down to what had happened in the previous round.

In Game 7 of the previous playoff series with the Sacramento Kings, Sam Cassell first introduced his now infamous 'Big Balls' dance which was inspired by the film 'Major League II'.

Although what not many people knew, Cassell actually injured himself with the ridiculous celebration and the affliction would effect him in the Western Conference Finals.

Saunders explained to Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune the impact the dance would have on the future of the team, Youngblood explains:

"Saunders takes a rather dim view of the gesture as well, but he has his reasons. According to Saunders, Cassell injured his hip doing that gesture that night, and was injured and ineffective in the conference finals, which the Wolves lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games."

Saunders said:

"We lost a championship by that, When [Cassell] did that he had an avulsion fracture in his hip. ... So, from that perspective, I’ve always been against that type of thing."

Cassell's production 

No one quite knew at the time that the hilarious and boastful dance would have such huge ramifications for the team, the franchise has never experienced the ecstasy of lifting the NBA title and that 2003/04 season was probably their best opportunity.

Cassell played only 16 minutes per game against the Lakers, averaging just 9.3 points, 2.5 assists and 0.5 rebounds. The point guard was such a key the style of the Timberwolves that the rest of the team's role were diminished.

Who knows whether the Timberwolves would currently have a Larry O'Brian trophy proudly advertised within their franchise had Cassell never have performed the infamous 'Big Balls' dance.

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