Is A Rebrand In Store For the Wolves?

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are only minority governors of the Minnesota Timberwolves right now, but they’ve wasted no time in leaving their mark on the franchise. After purchasing an initial 20 percent stake in ownership, the two investors quickly took it upon themselves to make some significant adjustments to the team and its front office. They started by luring one of the top President of Basketball Operations in the league to Minnesota.

Only months after becoming a part of the organization’s ownership group, the Timberwolves announced that former Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly would be the team’s new POBO. Luring away someone of Connelly’s status from one of the top teams in the NBA was a substantial development all in itself. Then, within only a few weeks as the Wolves’ president under his belt, Connelly pulled off one of the biggest moves in franchise history by acquiring All-NBA center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Lore and Rodriguez have been steadfast in their approach to completely revamp the Timberwolves’ image — not only by the fanbase but the rest of the league. Now that the front office and roster look vastly different, the only modification remaining appears to be an overhaul of the team’s branding.

When a new governor(s) takes over as the controlling owner, one of their first orders of business has typically been a shift in their franchise’s design. After purchasing the Dallas Mavericks in 2001, Mark Cuban shed his newly-acquired team of the color green, opting to have a completely different team look. He highlighted it with a new logo and the color silver. Why alter the physical appearance of their team’s logo, uniforms, court, and apparel? To signal to their fan group that, along with their major investment, comes along a new era of winning basketball.

But before we dive into what the Wolves’ potential restyling could look like, let’s briefly look into the Pack’s previous redesigns.

After losing the Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960, Minnesota was deprived of having an NBA team for nearly three decades. But the Timberwolves were introduced to the basketball world as part of a two-team expansion in 1989. With a round logo featuring a seemingly harmless wolf etched in bright blue and green, the Timberwolves’ original design didn’t exactly strike fear into their opponents. Pairing the puppy-like logo alongside an abysmal 152-422 record over the team’s first seven seasons, it was apparent that the Wolves needed a more menacing design. Taylor bought the Timberwolves in 1994 and rebranded them three years later.

The Timberwolves executed the rebrand for the 1997-98 season. Leaning into the late-90s trend of teams having more cartoon-inspired logos, Minnesota’s new emblem featured a much more aggressive wolf gazing above the pine trees, which showcased the addition of black into the team’s core colors. This brand of Wolves basketball will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was the era that turned a seven-year-old boy from Louisiana into loving an NBA franchise located more than 1,300 miles from his birthplace.

But like all good things in Minnesota sports, they hardly ever last. After two decades and a 2009 upgrade to the organization’s then-rebrand, which I don’t care to remember, the Wolves gave their fans the team design we all know and tolerate today. Coming into the 2017-18 season, Nike became the official apparel and uniform manufacturer for the NBA. With most teams now dawning the infamous check logo on their jerseys, several teams opted for a complete rebrand, including the Wolves.

Once again, Minnesota returned to a circular logo and simplistic team design. Gone were the glorious trees and edgy word style. Soon, the Wolves treated their fans to blocky lettering on generic jerseys, which resembled a default team concept from NBA 2K’s Create-A-Team feature. But the organization’s brand transformation appeared to stem from much more than just a change in its jersey manufacturer.

Just months before the team unveiled its new logo, court, and uniforms — which took inspiration from the franchise’s three previous designs — ex-POBO Tom Thibadeau pulled the trigger on the trade for Jimmy Butler. It was a blockbuster move made to halt Minnesota’s 13-year playoff drought. When the Timberwolves landed Butler, it felt like the team was on the brink of being a contender, giving more reasoning for a completely new image. But as we know today, this was far from what was to come. And even though the Timberwolves are nearly four years removed from the infamous Thibadeau-Butler saga, fans are still forced to gaze upon the dullness of bold san serif font.

Now, uh, where were we? Oh right — the Wolves need a new look!

Below are some concept designs from @mtd.esigns via Instagram for a potential Timberwolves rebrand. Using the fan favorite City Edition uniforms as the team’s primary uniform option, these vibrant jerseys would be a great way to showcase the team’s vast design history. It would also signal a new era of winning basketball led by the always colorful Anthony Edwards!

If Lore and Rodriguez want to get into the good graces of the Timberwolves’ fanbase, giving their playoff-caliber team a new look is essential. At a time when teams are opting for more simplistic redesigns, governing a team with some of the boldest uniforms in the league would only continue the organization’s zig instead of zag philosophy. Let’s just pray that if a rebrand is in the works, they take no inspiration from Cleveland or Utah.

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