Pure joy of Minnesota fans during Game 2 was beautiful to behold

One aspect of modern sports fandom that tends to bother me a great deal is how it feeds into a culture of escapism.

Any leisure or entertainment is by nature designed to be a pleasant diversion from the more serious or mundane parts of life, but as times get harder it can be dangerous — at least in my estimation — to retreat too far into those distractions.

But one of the great and beautiful powers of sports remains the role it plays as a unifier. In the right doses, the teams we cheer for can lift up and unify a collective group.

They can infuses us with joy, even if we understand that going bonkers for a win on a field or court is irrational. In the moment, it doesn't matter. We can have nice things, and life can be good.

Minnesota fans don't get that feeling very often when the playoffs roll around. That is what has made the Timberwolves' 6-0 run through the postseason (to date) so magical, and what specifically Monday night in a 106-80 win at Denver created a certain giddiness among fans that is hard to explain but was easy to feel — a feeling I talked about on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.

On social media, I saw references to fans who haven't been this happy with a Minnesota sports team since the 1998 Vikings were dominating the regular season.

My first thought went to the 2023 Twins and the joy of breaking that playoff losing streak. The Wolves, though, seem to have eclipsed that moment.

The Twins' Bomba Squad of 2019 was a joyous group, but playoff success didn't follow.

For a pure moment, it's hard to top the Minneapolis Miracle when Stefon Diggs walked off the Saints in the playoffs following the 2017 season. But that was more about tension and shock.

This Wolves team, with the way they are playing, is inspiring a sort of confidence that Minnesota fans rarely get to feel. Unless you watched a lot of Lynx basketball in the 2010s (as plenty of people did), you are not used to seeing a Minnesota team that is simply better than its playoff opponent.

You are not used to fans boasting "Wolves in four" and then being proved correct, nor is praise from the likes of Charles Barkley something that is routine in our sphere.

If you are like me and you enjoy seeing people happy, the tendency was to want to soak it all in even as late Monday turned to early Tuesday. As I wrote on X (formerly Twitter), "Kind of want to just stay up and read all the good tweets."

Hundreds of you agreed and many of you said you were, in fact, doing just that.

Monday night was a moment. It doesn't promise anything about the future and it doesn't change the past. But in the present, the pure joy of Minnesota fans is a beautiful thing.

Here are four more things to know today:

*Also on Tuesday's podcast, I caught up with Jon Marthaler on the success of Minnesota United. Come for the Loons talk, stay as we somehow get talking about mid-2000s Gophers men's basketball.

*We're up to more than 220 replies (and a bunch of emails) on Monday's query about how Twins fans are dealing with the loss of Bally Sports North on Comcast. I wrote about it yesterday, but the whole thread is enlightening.

*It will be interesting to see what sort of punishment Nuggets guard Jamal Murray gets for tossing a heat pack on the court during one of his several moments of frustration during Game 2.

*Wednesday's podcast will feature plenty of Vikings talk with Star Tribune beat writer Ben Goessling. We'll revisit the draft and look ahead to this weekend's rookie minicamp.

Have a message for the Timberwolves as they head into Game 3? Submit a short clip here by 4 p.m. Wednesday to contribute to our fan video.