I remember my first interaction with Tim Allen.
Early one morning, I logged onto twitter and saw it:"@timallenonline is following you."
As always when you receive a new follower, part of you wants to go check him/her out. You want to make sure that the person now reading your every word is indeed interested in what you have to say. You need to make sure that you’re not now being followed by a sketchy "superstar" model.
So what did I do? I clicked on Tim Allen’s twitter profile.
Then, it begun.
"Oh, another writer over at the Timberwolves site, Canis Hoopus," I thought to myself. "I’ll check him out." I typed in http://www.canishoopus.com into my address bar.
Immediately, I was barraged by a sense of community Canis Hoopus, an entire community dedicated to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. Go figure. I scrolled and scanned my way around the page and slowly became amazed at how solid the community appeared. Daily links. 400+ comments on stories that have nothing to do with the Wolves or even the sport of basketball. Comment streams lasting several days.
Slowly, I became a regular attender of Canis Hoopus. Though I never interacted with anybody on the site (I never even requested to become a member), I made an effort to read each story posted by Tim Allen.
It was only a matter of time before Tim Allen became part of my day-to-day sports journalism. I grew to respect him and the community that he helped to build. I tried to model my own writing after his. I looked at his commitment to his readers.
Then, for some reason, I became interested in how the Timberwolves were performing each night. Why did I suddenly care about a small, nonthreatening team in the Western conference? I soon realized: I had become an Allen-nite.
None of us are greater than death itself. Death seems to sweep in and snatch those in our lives. Death takes away those that were a great part of our lives - people we didn't even know were such a part of our lives. Tim Allen was one of those people. He held a part of my life and I didn't even know it.
I watched how Tim had grown me as writer, of course. But only now do I see how he has grown me as a person.
For those of you that have read Tim's stuff - he's funny. He's really, really funny. I figure you gotta be a funny guy to support the Timberwolves as much as he did. But I tell you: it was the occasional Tim Allen tweet or quote that made me laugh and brightened my day. How often do you get to laugh out loud while reading a sports preview or recap? Many of you remember how he predicted the Wolves to go 82-0 each season in his game previews, picking the guy in the Wolves' jersey to dominate each player matchup. You don't open the article expecting to laugh, but you're pleasantly surprised when you do laugh. Stuff like this:
Read these, and you get a sense of his humor. It was golden. Something you see rarely in the sports world.
What was Tim passionate about? Basketball. So, what did Tim do? Surround himself with basketball.
It's a simple statement. Something you read and think, "Well, thanks Marcus. That makes sense." It makes sense, sure, but how often do we live it? Do we honestly pursue what we love? Do we follow our passions? At what point do some of us get beat up and let society and culture tell us that our passions are a "difficult future" and force us to walk another direction?
Take a minute. Think about where you are in life and why you're sitting where you are reading this.
Are you doing what you love to do?
I'm not here to call you a bum - I just want you to think the thoughts that I have been thinking since yesterday morning when I first heard of Tim's death. The things that Tim has been teaching me while, all along, I never realized I was a student.
Tim loved the sport of basketball, so he pursed basketball. He was 29 years old. He played in a "professional recreational" basketball league. He slowly became one of the most notable writers in the state of Minnesota. For those of you that don't know me, I am currently a fourth-year college student that is scheduled to graduate with a degree in engineering. Not exactly the field where one sees the most writing experience. But I write, because I love writing. Tim, though he didn't know it, is a huge reason why I am taking the time from my week to invest in a hobby merely because I love the hobby.
Tim matured from a "die-hard Wolves fan" to "Tim Allen, the Wolves fan," and invited all of us in being a part of the transformation.
Lastly, Tim taught me and is teaching me the power and potential of sports community. For those of you who are feeling the same emotions I am feeling, it's hard to describe to somebody how important an "internet online basketball community" can be to you. Heck, I'd argue that it's even impossible to know unless you're in it and a part of it.
But when I step back and look at it, I realize it. I spent at least one day a week reading the voice of Tim Allen. Some of you, undoubtedly, spent more. He became part of your morning coffee routine. He slowly became your voice for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and then slowly became your voice for everything else in the "Daily Cups of Canis" posts. All along, there were other readers doing the same thing, and their opinion forced you to voice your opinion. Next thing you know, the Wolves game ended an hour ago, yet you're still sitting in front of the computer sending comments back-and-forth to random usernames at 1 AM.
And then, strangely, you lay your head on the pillow that night eager to do it again as soon as possible.
From the surface, it's immature and childish. The world tells us that we should go make "real friends" and not live in this "cyber world." Sure, there's truth to that. Don't ignore that advice. However, on the other side of the coin, don't ignore the other reality: that authentic community is just that. Authentic community.
Tim, I didn't ever speak with you face-to-face and I've never shaken your hand. But, for what it's worth, I cared for you, looked up to you, and valued you as a person. I regret that it's taken all of this to realize that.
I'll let JonesTheCat, a frequent over at Canis Hoopus, say it perfectly:
My prayers and the prayers of the community are with you and your family. May the Lord love them and care for them in this difficult time. You will be missed.
Nathan Eide, a writer over at the SBNation Minnesota Wild blog, Hockey Wilderness, is raising money in honor of Tim Allen, with all proceeds going to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota. Please consider donating below.