LOS ANGELES, CA — Four months ago, sitting in the basement of Karl-Anthony Towns’ Minnesota mansion, otherwise known as “the fortress,” the franchise-altering Timberwolves center talked about changing the culture inside of the building that hasn’t opened its doors for an NBA playoff game in 13 years.
“When you change the culture in the city to winning they are going to be the sexiest jerseys on the market, and the logo is going to be the best logo,” said Towns, after our conversation found its way into a question about whether or not it would be cliche to say the new branding could help turn the page, start fresh in a sense, and move forward from the past.
Towns agreed that could be one way to look at it, but his real interest has always been building the NBA’s next dynasty in Minneapolis, and he knows winning ultimately shapes perception above all else, especially when it comes to uniforms. “Everyone thought the Spurs jerseys were ugly but then they started winning championships,” he reminded me.
During a summer of immense change throughout the organization—one that has brought new attire, the Iowa Wolves G-League affiliate, the final phase of the long awaited Target Center renovations, a roster overhaul highlighted by the addition of superstar two-way wing Jimmy Butler on draft night, along with playoff tested veterans in Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford—Friday brought another little twist a week before Media Day at Mayo Clinic Square.
AT A NIKE EVENT hosted at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, California, all 30 NBA teams revealed their Statement uniforms to be worn this upcoming season. Towns was naturally the Timberwolves’ player representative—each team had one player there—donning one of the long-awaited alternate uniforms fans have been craving to see since the first two jerseys dropped on August 10. And yes, the new jerseys were indeed a bold statement compared to the rest of the league.
"Oh, they’re definitely a statement jersey," said Towns. "I’ll tell you that much. We’re definitely going to have the brightest jersey in league, but the jersey is a statement about what we want to do differently with the Timberwolves culture. We want to be vibrant and showcase our talent as bright as our jerseys are."
Initial reactions across the internet were not overly positive (Seawolves and Timberhawks!), though up close and personal the new jerseys pop in front of your eyes, and compared to the rest of the league, there’s nothing quite like them. I’ll support eccentric over bland any day of the week. Go big or go home.
The Wolves sent a bold statement this summer to the entire league: they are done waiting on the future and tired of dreaming about the rise down the road.
Why not make another statement with one of their alternate jerseys? It sure seems fitting to me.
Q&A with Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson on the new uniforms
JM: How did the organization ultimately choose the primary colors?
EC: Before we could start designing a new logo or new uniforms, we needed to determine a color palette, and ours is centered around the idea of color with a sense of place – having each color represent a part of this great state. The Midnight Blue, Lake Blue, Moonlight Grey, Frost White and the Aurora Green, which is inspired by the green of the Northern Lights, each reflect a unique part of the Minnesota landscape.
I'm sure you wanted the new logo and uniforms to reflect a local angle in some sense. Can you speak to some of the subtleties in the uniform and logo that help represent Minnesota?
The North Star in our logo is meant to represent our Minnesota pride and represent the loyal, strong and hard-working people from here. The green is also seen in the eyes of the wolf and represents both a fierceness, and also a representation of spring in Minnesota, which ties to the new era of Timberwolves basketball that we are in.
How did you decide on Fitbit as the corporate sponsor?
The partnership was one that made a lot of sense as two companies with a similar vision. We’re both very focused on using technology to advance our businesses, and also share common ground within the areas of health and wellness. It’s a partnership that will extend well beyond the jersey patch and we’re excited for what’s to come.
Out of the four different uniforms, do you personally have a favorite? Have the players offered any feedback on the new jerseys?
Personally, I love the design of them, how clean the lines are and how they’re very different than what we’ve done before, while still giving a nod to our heritage. You’ve likely seen our players already getting involved and excited about the new looks on social media — sharing their new jerseys and uniform shorts. We’re glad to have their support.
Speaking of the players, were they involved in this rebranding process at all?
We did seek their opinion during the process and got a sense for what they like that we’ve done and what they would like to see moving forward. That was helpful in shaping our decisions.
How important is it to you and the franchise to get a player in the top 15 of jersey sales and also make the move into the top 10 in team merchandise sales?
Very important — it’s a great benchmark for us to strive for and with great fan reaction thus far, we’re very optimistic about the success this rebrand will bring our organization.
Do you think jerseys are a key symbol of fandom?
The jerseys give our fans a chance to suit up like a player and literally wear what they are wearing night in and night out. It gives them a way to represent our team and we hope these new jerseys are ones they’ll be proud to wear at our games and around town.