Welcome back to another edition of “Jersey Week” here at Canis Hoopus, where we take a deep dive into the best threads in Minnesota Timberwolves history. If you’ve been quarantined from the Internet for a while, here’s a quick refresher of what we’ve covered thus far:
- Monday: 1967-1968 Minnesota Muskies
- Tuesday: 2009-2010 Minnesota Timberwolves
- Wednesday: 1995-1996 Hardwood Classics
A few weeks back, I tweeted out the photo below showing nearly all of the different uniforms the team has worn in the franchise’s history, and asked people to pick their top three:
As Mike mentioned yesterday, after hundreds of comments and opinions, it became a clear three-horse race between #2, #4, and #9. While Mike argued for why he believes #9 was the G.O.A.T. (elite color combination mixed with the nostalgia factor), I’m here to make a counter argument (on behalf of all Prince fans) as to why #4 may very well be the best kit in Wolves history.
While the nostalgia factor may not be there like it was for those ‘95-’96 Hardwood Classics, the connections to Minnesota could not be more evident. As Zach Lowe wrote back in 2018 when the jerseys were being unveiled, Prince’s status as a global icon was one thing, but his aura and mystique around Minneapolis was on a whole other level:
When Prince’s camp sent word he might attend a game, several staffers would drop everything to plan for his appearance. There were many false alarms. I was in Minneapolis on Nov. 12, 2015, when Prince’s people alerted the Wolves he might come that night to their game against the Warriors. A thrilled panic ensued. Staffers arranged private entrance and exit pathways for Prince, and a method of whisking him into a suite without attracting attention.
He didn’t show. But Prince was always watching Minnesota hoops. He played basketball in junior high and high school, and in pickup games both on tour and at his home in Paisley Park — as memorialized in perhaps the most famous “Chappelle’s Show” skit ever. When the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx won the 2015 championship, Prince invited the team to Paisley Park for a private three-hour concert.
Lowe went on to mention that, after taking over production/design of NBA jerseys from Adidas, Nike actually pitched the Wolves on the Prince-themed jersey idea a year earlier, but the team decided it was too soon (Prince tragically past away in the spring of 2016). Nevertheless, after the franchise went through a full re-branding in 2017, they felt it was not only appropriate, but necessary to honor a man that had such an immense influence on the city he grew up in.
Again, while the jersey may not have the on-court history of other top Wolves jerseys, the overall execution of these “City Edition” threads is pure perfection. Everything from the colors to the font to the little additions on the shoulders and shorts were well thought-out and designed beautifully.
In a press release from when the jerseys were unveiled to the public, the team described the extensive detail that went into the jerseys:
The actual jersey design incorporates multiple references to the legacy of Prince. The left vent on the jersey bears a paisley leaf in tribute to Prince’s creative sanctuary – Paisley Park. The right shoulder pattern honors the iconic jacket Prince wore when performing “Purple Rain”. The “MPLS” on the left leg symbolizes the well-known Minneapolis Sound that Prince ushered in during the late 1970s. The Timberwolves partial logos on the right leg and on the belt buckle are in tonal purple – the regal color most closely associated with Prince. Tying it all together is the distinctive font, which is reminiscent of the 1980s Prince era.
The Wolves also released a white version of these uniforms during the same season:
While some of you may prefer the white and pink combination over the (mostly) all purple, I think it’s safe to say that this overall design and execution was one of the best things the franchise has ever done. Hell, considering the franchise’s track record with “success,” I’d argue the team should just go ahead and hang a Prince City Edition jersey in the Target Center rafters (I’m pretty sure there’s extra space up there anyway).
Check back tomorrow for our third and final write-up on what we believe are the top options for “Best Timberwolves Jersey Ever” before we open it up to a community-wide vote.
Stay safe, friends.