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Patrick Reusse

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968.

Reusse: Four daughters made Kobe four times lucky as citizen of this planet

I was involved in the upbringing of three sons. Everything has worked out OK, although I don’t think writing a “how to’’ book on the art of such duties was ever a possibility to fortify my income.

For instance: Some might not agree with all those Saturday afternoons at Met Stadium, when my two sons were 12 or younger, and they would travel with me to a Twins game.

I would hand over a few bucks and say, “Don’t kill yourselves,’’ and head to the press box. And they never did, although we had one case of permanent scarring.

Later, the stepson was 6 when we hooked up and the staples of my commentary were the following: “Don’t get me in the middle of this,’’ and “Do you need any money?’’

The presence of young girls in the household was not part of my existence. Heck, during the first seven or eight years of my sports writing career, we didn’t deal with girls and young women as athletes for the most part.

Admittedly, I still was something of a moron about women getting their chance in athletics as late as March 2, 1991, when the regrettable phrase “tip-toed ball throwing’’ was used to disparage what was perceived to be the slow growth of skills in women’s basketball.

That turned into a life lesson, although nothing to compare with being around nieces from my wife’s large, close-knit family, and friends' daughters, and then a granddaughter, amazingly and incomprehensibly, now closing in on 11.

Hey, boys are great. My grandson, 18 months younger, is a hoot. He makes up his own jokes. Some of ‘em are even funny.

Girls, though .. dads with girls to raise are the luckiest people on the planet. Girls have opinions. They have confidence. They are hilarious, without working at it.

RandBall: Kobe Bryant and every parent's nightmare

My granddaughter was no more than 6 when this took place one winter: There were a half-dozen of us at the kitchen table. My wife and I would be leaving the next day to drive 1,750 miles to Fort Myers in a well-used convertible.

The bride expressed considerable concern over taking such a long ride with someone with my overabundance of impatience, to which I replied: “After 35 years, you should be used to it.’’

Without pause, the granddaughter said, slight smirk on her face: “Maybe after 35 years grandpa could change.’’

There also are a pair of nieces who grew from tykes to young women as the most-reliable users of our backyard pool. In fact, my annual joke after a family gathering at their place on Christmas Eve was, “OK, girls. We’ll see you when the pool opens.’’

There’s also Nora. Her father is a friend, world traveler, walks in and takes over the room, with stories to tell. Except when Nora is with him.

I picked up the pair at the airport one afternoon. Nora was 9, I’d guess. Over the next half-hour, I learned Nora’s life story, details of her well-planned future and opinions on various world events.

Greta Thunberg couldn’t have gotten in a word edge-wise if she was in a car with a 9-year-old Nora.

There’s also my friend Tate. In 2018, I went to Croatian Hall in South St. Paul on a Sunday morning to watch Croatia play France in the World Cup championship game. A gent pointed to a pair of kids wearing Croatia (and Purina’s) colors and said, “They actually are from Croatia.’’

I watched with bemusement at the girl’s animation, as did her older brother Jack. Finally, I walked over, introduced myself and said: “You didn’t even know Croatia had a soccer team until two weeks ago.’’

To which Tate, 8 at the time, stared fiercely and said: “I’ve known Croatia had a soccer team since I was 2.’’

We’re texting friends now. The kids come back with Mom to spend several weeks in Minnesota in the summer, to visit grandparents now living in Melrose and other relatives. Tate’s playing baseball back in Croatia, as does the slugging Jack. She also remains convinced that Barley Days in Greenwald is a celebration that can’t be missed.

And this is what I’ve come to experience in this millennium: As adolescent occupants of this planet, boys are terrific, but girls are the best.

**

The only true dealings I had with Kobe Bryant came during the one period of grand excitement in the 31 seasons of the Minnesota Timberwolves: the playoff run of 2004 that ended with a six-game elimination by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

The Wolves put up a fight, and might have pushed it to a Game 7 at Target Center if the tremendous Sammy Cassell wasn’t hurt. The Lakers had Kobe and Shaqulle O’Neal, and had brought in noble veterans Gary Payton and Karl Malone as reinforcements, and they were finally healthy at playoff time.

A sexual assault charge against Bryant from the previous summer in Colorado remained in force. His feuding with O’Neal – the battle to be the team’s focal point – was more public than ever.

Kobe was 25, an all-time great talent, insolent, a leader in egomania in a league filled with contenders. He became a father during all of this, the first of four girls with wife Vanessa.

He escaped the Colorado mess, presumably by writing a huge check to the woman. He played 20 years for the Lakers and remained perhaps the most-popular athlete in the history of Los Angeles sports. On Sunday, he died in a helicopter crash at age 41, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gigi and seven other people, headed for a youth basketball tournament.

All it takes is a look at the eight-second video of Kobe and Gigi, at a Lakers game, him showing her the right cut to make on the court, her with a “Yes, Dad, I know this’’ smile, and you see that whatever Kobe Bryant was in 2004, he was different now.

He was a father of four girls, making him four times lucky as a citizen of this planet

Reusse: Browns fans surely excited after playoff look at Stefanski's offense

The Detroit Lions made a deal with Matt Patricia, New England’s defensive coordinator, to be their new coach during the two-week break before the Super Bowl in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018.

The Philadelphia Eagles, with Nick Foles at quarterback, lit up the Patriots for 538 yards in the ZygiDome shootout, and scored a 41-33 upset victory.

Detroit was then left to announce officially one day later that Patricia, the architect along with head coach Bill Belichick of that futile defensive effort 18 hours earlier, would be its next coach.

We smirked and asked, “Who else but the Lions?’’

We now have the answer: the Browns.

Last week, Cleveland officials came to the Twin Cities to interview Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings offensive coordinator. The Browns also had interviewed Stefanski after last season, as the replacement for interim Gregg Williams, who had replaced the fired Hue Jackson during the 2018 season.

The Browns went with an internal hire, the aptly-named Freddie Kitchens, and then fired him at the end of this season. That increased Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s number of head coaches fired to five in eight seasons. It also allowed Kitchens to join Rob Chudzinski as being fired after getting one season as Haslam’s head coach.

The likelihood was Haslam knew Stefanski was his choice this time, but the Browns had to make it look like a search, so the trip was made to Minnesota last week.

The interview was a mild interruption in the Vikings’ short week of preparation before heading to the West Coast to play San Francisco in the second round of the NFC playoffs.

Back in December, the offense ordered by coach Mike Zimmer (run, then run some more) -- and crafted by Stefanski and wise old Gary Kubiak – was an abomination in a showdown game with Green Bay.

It was so bad that it became freaky visit to a football time machine; more like Murray Warmath’s Gophers in a battle with Jack Mollenkopf’s Purdue Boilermakers in the 1960s at Memorial Stadium than a modern NFL game in Minnesota’s $1.15 billion gift to Zygi Wilf.

The Vikings had seven first downs and 139 yards against a Packers’ defense with a modest resume. That made the regular-season finale against the Bears meaningless, and the Vikings lost that December exhibition.

This was followed by the upset playoff victory over New Orleans in the Superdome – with an offense featuring the smashing runs of Dalvin Cook and rookie Alex Mattison, and the best clutch effort of quarterback Kirk Cousins’ NFL career.

Who could have guessed in the six-day run up to the game with the 49ers that “7’’ would return as a magic number for the Vikings’ offense?

They had seven first downs again Saturday, this time with 147 yards, in the 27-10 loss. At one point, Stefanski’s offense went 27 minutes without a first down.

On Sunday, it became public Stefanski will be the next head coach for the Browns, the next wanted poster on Haslam’s office wall.

Funny thing is, Stefanski was mentored in Minnesota by Pat Shurmur, and he might want to bring the fired Giants’ coach to Cleveland, but Shurmur was the coach inherited and thus the first to be fired by Haslam after the 2012 season.

I believe there have been some suggestions that Shurmur is less thanan admirer of the Browns’ wacky owner.

Oh, well. Certainly, the Browns fanatics that happened to tune to Saturday’s NFC game, and watched the Vikings soar from 81 yards to 147 on their last two garbage-time possessions, are thrilled by what they witnessed -- as well as the idea young, trim Stefanski will now be the coach trying to convince quarterback Baker Mayfield not to behave (and often play) like an idiot..

That last look at Stefanski’s Vikings offense … there hasn’t been such a confidence builder for a new fan base since Patricia brought the Patriots’ Super Bowl effort with him to Detroit. And look at big Matt -- he hasn't been fired yet.