MINNEAPOLIS Tyrone Corbin is no stranger to a Timberwolves team attempting to build and define itself.
Corbin, who's in his first full season as the head coach of the Jazz, was selected by the Timberwolves in the 1989 expansion draft. The small forward played for two and a half seasons in Minnesota under Bill Musselman and was a key player in the team's early efforts to define itself.
Now, more than 20 years later, the Timberwolves are going through a similar process to Corbin's squad all those years ago, and he can't help but reminisce.
"We set a goal with Coach Musselman to be the best of the new franchises, which was four expansion teams at the time," Corbin said.
There was more, though. Musselman's team wanted to be better than the bottom tier of the NBA, better than those teams that hadn't made the playoffs in the season before the Timberwolves' inception. Under Musselman, the team won 22 games in its first season and 29 in its second, numbers that look respectable compared to the Timberwolves of recent years.
And despite the team's early struggles to assert itself and learn to win, Corbin remembers his time in Minnesota fondly.
"I enjoyed my time here," Corbin said. "I think that this is a great city, great community. I was really excited about the teams that we had here. The two and a half years I was here, the people were tremendous."
Musselman played a large part in Corbin's perceptions of the city, and he obviously left an impression on his players. From him, they learned not only how to play, but also how to lead, and Corbin's teammate from those years under Musselman, Sidney Lowe, is now one of his assistants in Utah.
Corbin's Jazz are in the midst of a stretch in which they've won just nine of 12 games. They're struggling, and one lesson of Musselman's sticks in Corbin's head even now. It's as relevant in 2012 as it was in 1989.
"Even if you're out-manned, you've got to work your butt off every minute you're on the floor to have any chance to win," Corbin said.
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