Karl-Anthony Towns’ reaction to news of the Timberwolves’ potential sale likely matched what yours was.
“A-Rod bought the team?” Towns thought with some semblance of disbelief.
Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore did, or are going to, is the more appropriate term at this point in the process.
Towns is a Yankees fan to this day, and grew up an A-Rod fan. He still has a Rodriguez jersey at his house, a $35 version he got from Walmart as a kid when his family was “dirt poor.”
Rodriguez, Towns noted, is “one of the greatest pure talents that’s ever touched a baseball.” Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch said adding someone like Rodriguez to the ownership group adds some “sex appeal” to the franchise.
“Just to have his charisma and his aura, it’s going to make a lot of people gravitate towards here,” Towns said. “The fans, to be able to have such a star like that as an owner is going to bring an awareness to this team.”
Jay-Z has had that type of effect on the Brooklyn Nets. Rodriguez brings another special benefit in that he garnered his fame as an athlete. He knows the rigors of competing in professional sports. Towns noted the challenges of that extend beyond physical problems, but also mental ones.
Perhaps Rodriguez will know where to invest certain resources to best meet players’ needs.
“I don’t know him, so I don’t want to speak out of the cloud, but I think more detail-oriented to the players’ needs. That’s something that you only know when you are a player,” point guard Ricky Rubio said. “It’s hard for owners or whoever it is to really take care of that. When you went through a professional sport, you know how tough it is and how the little details down the stretch, it means the most. Because when you get to a hotel at 2 a.m. and you’re starving, the easy thing is to call room service and get a pizza or whatever it is. But if the owner has … your room ready with a salad, those little details carry on. It’s just a little example but that can carry on through the whole season where, mentally, fatigue kicks in and the good or bad habits kick in, as well. I think taking care of more of these little details as a professional player, that’s something that I would do. I don’t know him personally.”
That last sentence is important. Frankly, everyone’s guesses on the impact Rodriguez and Lore will have on the Timberwolves are guesses to this point. D’Angelo Russell noted that, as someone who has bounced around from team to team early in his career, he’s never been able to gauge the impact that ownership has on winning.
“It’s not normal for me to know what’s going on. I have no idea,” Russell said. “All I hope is it’s for the better. We’re changing pieces around here, from players, coaches to front office. Hopefully that just means good. That’s all I can really say on that.”
That’s how a lot of fans are feeling at the moment, too. Will Rodriguez and Lore — two successful people from very different industries — combine their skill sets and resources to set the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx up for future success? That’s what people hope. At the same time, they’re also concerned a change of ownership could be a relocation of the franchise out of the Twin Cities, regardless of what assurances current owner Glen Taylor tries to give that that won’t happen.
“Glen did his due diligence. He made a decision he felt was right not only for this organization, but for this city and this state,” Towns said. “We ask fans again to trust everything that we’re doing to bring this organization back to where it rightfully should be. It’s just another adjustment, but it’s an adjustment that I think could have a lot of great benefits.”
Taylor will remain the franchise’s controlling owner until 2023. Players heaped praise upon Taylor for his contributions to the organization. Rubio said Taylor has been “involved a lot,” noting the organization was “like his son.”
“He spent a lot of time, he came to a lot of games. I’m sad that this year we couldn’t really hang out again, because I have a lot of really good memories with him and his wife, Becky, going to his house. It makes, at the end of the day, it kind of like a family,” Rubio said. “With our new owners, hopefully we can meet them, go over and spend time. But at the end of the day, Glen has been outstanding.”
“Shout out to Glen. He gave a lot of us our chance to play basketball, especially me. Nothing but thanks to him,” Towns said. “But now it’s time for us to build something off of the vision he has.”