The headline in Minnesota Timberwolves news this week was that of Alex Rodriguez’s ability to make good on his financial portion of the ownership bid.
Those who are much more sourced on the topic seem not too bothered by that lead. Sure, ARod may lose some cool points without Jennifer Lopez at his side, but why J-Lo when you can D’Lo? He also still has Marc Lore, who was always going to be the cash cow for this transaction. By all indications, Lore was always prepared to handle this scenario and is still more than capable of shouldering the load. It sounds like the transfer of ownership isn’t in real jeopardy from its original December 2023 timeline... for now. With the dawn of the “Lore Wolves” (The potential nickname of L’Wolves seems to have a nice ring to it) just about 15 months away, I started to ask myself: What do I most hope ownership can achieve?
Here are the three things that I’d like to see from ownership, whether its by December 2023 or shortly thereafter.
1) Retire Kevin Garnett’s Jersey
The biggest elephant in the room ever since 2016 has been the shattered relationship between Glen Taylor and Kevin Garnett. Though we have had a few “face of the franchise” candidates since KG’s prime days in Minnesota, the cultural relevance of the Timberwolves has always been tied to him. By almost all accounts, KG has been Minnesota’s only notable footnote in NBA lore and the fact that his jersey isn’t in the rafters of Target Center remains a travesty. This fact is even more stark when you consider that the Boston Celtics already honored him with a jersey retirement earlier this year, a team which he played less than 50% of his career with. Just watch KG’s emotion here:
great start to Kevin Garnett’s jersey retirement ceremony speech. pic.twitter.com/uDFI2rjmN4— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) March 13, 2022
Imagine the vibe during his Timberwolves jersey retirement ceremony.
As far as I know, aside from maybe some jealously from his failed bid, there shouldn’t be any bad blood between KG and Lore/ARod’s representation that would keep Garnett from accepting offers to have #21 honored forever. This should be an easy task for new ownership to rightfully acknowledge the history of the franchise while earning a ton of points with fans around the world. ARod does follow KG on Instagram so I guess we’re off to a good start.
2) Earn a Playoff Series Victory
It’s been 18 years since the Timberwolves have won a playoff series. The franchise has sold fans magic beans for nearly a decade and aside from cashing in our “crop” for a fully bloomed, but generally sore/rotten plant, we have been left with nothing. However, with Lore and ARod starting to take over the plows last year (I’m grew up far away from any rural areas so forgive my poor choice in metaphors), it seems that something is starting to sprout. This time, it appears our new farmers have bartered our future seeds for an extremely tall and fruitful stalk. A French stalk, if you will.
The proof will be in the pudding. If Lore & ARod are able to remain aggressive in building a franchise that shows an aggressive sense of urgency to win now, then it should culminate in a playoff series victory sooner than later. Their installation of Tim Connelly and a super team of front office members has certainly been a step in the right direction. Will they be able to remain patient now that the plan is in place, or will they blow it all up before we hit this goal?
3) Push Towards Equity and Social Change
As I’ve grown longer in the tooth, I’ve become more and more interested in the stories behind the players and sports teams that I root for. For almost anyone that watches or participates in sports, including myself for a long time, wins and championships are the end all be all. That’s all that matters.
Well, not anymore. For me, at least.
As a fan of Minnesota pro basketball teams, I’ve been fortunate to get to root for awesome players like Maya Moore and Karl-Anthony Towns. People who seem to understand that there’s a lot more behind basketball than just personal and team accolades. 2022 has continued on the track of despair and senselessness, especially in the United States. Though sports has long been an escape for me, I’ve now begun to consciously weave in the fabric of my values into sports, whether by design or not. I quit watching the NFL. I quit watching the NCAA. I stopped rooting for/celebrating players who have accomplished incredible feats in their sports, or just because they played for the team I supported.
Timberwolves owners Glen Taylor donated to ... Steve King? pic.twitter.com/PugkvEyUt8— Henry Abbott (@TrueHoop) September 24, 2020
When the story broke about Glen Taylor donating to Steve King, it forced me to take a step back and think about the Wolves organization from a more non-basketball perspective. Sure, we all know it’s been a tire fire on the court for over 20 years. Yes, I also acknowledge that I’ve made a lot of genuine life-long connections with people both IRL and online. However, it sure would be nice if the people who run the team weren’t totally opposite to what I stood for, ethically. Am I expecting a billionaire entrepreneur and superstar celebrity athlete to be the most righteous civil rights warriors? Of course not.
But my biggest wish is that they take steps in the right direction in a way that Glen Taylor never truly did.
Is giving more qualified POC candidates opportunities within the organization, such as the recent hiring of Michael Grady as the play-by-play announcer, progress? Sure. I would still like to see them up the ante and take more initiative within the state and local communities to promote social justice, education, and civil rights in a more hands on way. As Michael Jordan once said, “Republicans buy sneakers too,” but I hope it’s not all about the bottom line for the new owners.
ARod would definitely recoup his lost cool points in my book if he demonstrates a commitment to affect social change.