Souhan: This Wolves team is why we love to watch sports

Why do we even watch professional sports?

Why do we care whether a bunch of mercenaries from around the world temporarily wearing uniforms provided by local billionaires trying to improve their images through sports can beat … a different group of mercenaries from around the world temporarily wearing uniforms provided by out-of-town billionaires trying to improve their images through sports?

Jerry Seinfeld famously said that sports fans cheer for laundry. Sometimes, given a few of the miscreants we've seen come through town, we're cheering for dirty laundry.

What makes us care, and often care too much?

A musician friend once said that we watch live music — paying for parking and expensive refreshments while getting elbowed in the ribs by strangers — because we like to see talented people working together.

I've always defined sportswriting as the study of talented people under pressure.

We are captivated by talent. We also crave cohesiveness, and a sense that a diverse group of people is striving for a common cause.

That's also why losing and dysfunctional teams incur such wrath. They are failing to justify the amount of time we have invested in them.

This Timberwolves team now headed to Round 2 of the NBA playoffs has rewarded fans' investment of time and money.

Yes, they are talented. You can't win in a league of spectacular athletes without talent. What has made this team unique is the way their many talented people have created relationships required in basketball.

Baseball players can hate each other and bat next to one another in the lineup without a problem. Football teams are divided into three segments. Basketball requires cohesiveness on offense, defense, in transition and in the many meetings and practices required to acquire such cohesion.

President of basketball operations Tim Connelly arrived and didn't do what so many sports bosses do. He didn't hire his "own" coach. He knew Chris Finch could coach and had built relationships here.

Finch, from the start, valued relationships with players. He positioned himself as someone they could trust, who would coach them hard because he wanted what was best for them. Ask him about balancing toughness and empathy as a coach, and he'll say he understands the pressures of being an NBA player, especially a young NBA player trying to acquire generational wealth, with lots of people depending on them.

He earned the players' trust, and he found a way to run a team that could feature three gifted big men and a rising superstar, while helping the Timberwolves become the best defensive team in the league.

Karl-Anthony Towns never complained about Anthony Edwards becoming the team's foremost star, or about Rudy Gobert taking his position. He adapted, and you could see him during postgame interviews all series trading jokes and congratulations with Edwards and Gobert.

Gobert became a target for analysts who believed this trade didn't work, and he never complained about that perception.

Edwards slowly developed a strong relationship with Finch, and he spent many of his interviews praising or deferring to older teammates.

Naz Reid and Mike Conley re-signed with the Wolves knowing they could have made more as free agents. They believed in the people around them here.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Reid, Jaden McDaniels and Edwards are examples of young players growing before our eyes, a testament to the Wolves' player development team.

Those are just some of the reasons this Timberwolves team is such a joy to watch.

Spectacular talent. Shrewd management. Passionate and expert coaching. Players who constantly demonstrate that they care for one another.

Finch suffering a knee injury in the waning moments of his greatest coaching victory could be viewed as sad, but it allowed assistant coach Micah Nori to run the show for a few minutes, offering a reminder of how many quality coaches this team has on its staff.

While so many were complaining about the Gobert trade, the Wolves developed into a deep and intelligent organization. This season has marked them as a team worthy of our attention.