Please forgive me.
When I agreed to take over the site a couple months ago, I was energized by the fact that come late April/early May, we’d be ripping through mock drafts, discussing offseason strategies, and focusing on a brighter future for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In other words, there was supposed to be a laundry list of exciting content for fans and followers to dissect as we all transitioned from April showers into May flowers.
Since then, the effects of COVID-19 have decimated all of those topics, putting all NBA-related news on hold for the foreseeable future (although, according to Sam Amick, there might be a slight glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel). Regardless of how/when the NBA does return to our lives, we all still want/need things to talk about, especially when it comes to our favorite teams.
With that in mind, and in partnership with the rest of team sites across the SB Nation platform, the staff here at Canis Hoopus has decided there’s no better time than now to have our first official “Timberwolves Jersey Week.” Over the next few days, we will be diving into a variety of jersey-related topics: what Wolves jersey(s) were the best in franchise history, which jersey looked like it was designed using Kid Pix, and why did a franchise nicknamed “Timberwolves” suit up for six games in jerseys that donned a “relatively uncommon freshwater fish native to North America?”
Because it’s the first day of the work week for most people, let’s start low and work our way to the top. Without further ado, it’s time to celebrate...
Long before the existence of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and even longer before the days of the Minneapolis Lakers, there was another men’s professional basketball team that called the Twin Cities “home.”
For a quick refresher — the Minnesota Muskies were originally created back in 1967 as an expansion member of the American Basketball Association. The ABA offices at that time were located in Minneapolis, so it was only right that the city would also play host to a professional team. After selecting Mel Daniels with their first draft pick in franchise history, the Muskies would go on to have an extremely successful inaugural season on the court, tallying a record of 50-28, ultimately falling in the Eastern Division Championship (aka the Eastern Conference Finals) to the eventual league champion Pittsburgh Pipers.
Despite their early success on the court, the franchise was a dumpster fire off it, hemorrhaging nearly $500,000 in losses during the first twelve months and attracting a league-low attendance of approximately 2,800 people per game. Management attempted to address these issues after the season by securing alternate venues for the team to play certain games (as well as negotiating a strong TV deal), but ultimately the team would be moved to Miami, Florida just one season after it was created.
With that said, I’m not here to discuss the failed revenue strategies of the first professional men’s basketball franchise in Minnesota, but rather to discuss something far, far more important.
These are, in my opinion, the worst professional sports jerseys I have ever seen in my 31 years on Earth. As part of the NBA’s “Hardwood Classic” initiative, the Wolves “proudly” wore these throw(up) backs for six games during the 2011-2012 season. Many will remember that year for it’s lockout-shortened season, but Wolves fans will specifically remember it for a variety of “fun” reasons, including Ricky Rubio’s NBA debut, the beginning of Darko Miličić’s breathtaking weight gain, and a professional roster littered with a “Who’s Who” of first round draft pick busts (Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, Anthony Randolph).
Back to the jerseys though... like what in the actual (bleep)? I know the Wolves franchise doesn’t scream “success” or anything, but the fine folks at Adidas couldn’t whip up a better throwback than this? Had anyone at HQ ever even heard of the Minneapolis Lakers? People really thought THIS logo needed to be brought back into the realms of society?!
Everything about this is flat-out criminal. The origin’s of the word “muskellunge” actually means “ugly pike,” which (to the artist’s credit) is on full display in this original tan and blue logo. There are just so many things wrong with this logo — the color combinations are horrendous, the font is straight of out WordStar, and there’s nothing connecting the logo to the state of Minnesota (you know, like lakes, trees, or even Sweet Martha’s Cookies). To top it all off, the muskie isn’t even the state fish of Minnesota (spoiler alert: it’s walleye), which really adds the icing to the “what in the hell are we doing here” cake.
We may never know what the other “options” were back in 2011 for those Hardwood Classics, but resurrecting threads from a period in time best known for losing money, having no fans, and ultimately ditching town seems like a less than prudent marketing strategy. Could you imagine if the Wolves had attempted to bring these uniforms back in 2020? There would have been more scorched jerseys than when LeBron James left Cleveland.
Since officially making the switch from Adidas to Nike, NBA jerseys around the league have gotten far more creative and stylish, so one would *think* that we are finally in the clear when it comes to revolting throwbacks. Nevertheless, long-time Wolves fans will never truly forget the 2011-2012 season (for a multitude of reasons), none worse (in my opinion) than the six games of the Minnesota Muskies.