The new Timberwolves Statement Edition jerseys are here. Fortunately, they look much better when they’re not ripped from NBA 2K game code.
The jerseys themselves are fine. They’re nothing revolutionary, but they are a markedly better product than the neon green ones that Minnesota has been trotting out there on Saturdays for the past four years. Choosing a dark grey as the base color is a unique touch, while the normalized horizontal lines sing with that same fluorescent green that donned the past generation of Statements. Of course, it’s got the letters making some visual fangs, and some bonafide “wolf lore” went into the design thought process. These jerseys are significantly better than the current regular season home and away jerseys.
All of this makes it baffling that these jerseys have been subjected to a high degree of scrutiny since their reveal. The jury is split on whether or not these jerseys are “good,” but the people that dislike these jerseys are loud and proud. Some common retorts to this reveal include but are not limited to:
- “These suck!”
- “I hate horizontal lines!”
- “*barfing emoji*”
- “Bring back the trees!”
- “The Prince uniforms were better!”
These last two lines are the ones that warrant further examination. The Statements have to fall in line with the regular design, but that is not considered. Fans are clinging to the past while trying to bring back monikers of the “better days.” Trees, purple Prince uniforms, you name it. People want the old stuff back.
The thing is — how much better were those days, exactly?
Everybody loves a bit of nostalgia. It’s almost a bit too pervasive in America right now. “Nostalgia Culture” is a real thing, and it is part of the reason we only see the same four movies getting released and re-released ad-infinitum. Nostalgia Culture has also paved the way for con artists like Machine Gun Kelly and Yungblud to find relevance. Even Silk Sonic, for all of its beauty, is a direct callback to the disco sensationalism of the ’70s. It is a natural product of a capitalistic society. Why go rogue and release something new when you can do the same thing repeatedly to make boatloads of money? It explains why every other movie released is a superhero movie.
Kyle Chaika writes about this for Town & Country Magazine, quoting Friedrich Nietzsche and the concept of “eternal return” as it pertains to media and pop culture. As we watch the integrity of the arts crumble to the idea of Nostalgia Culture, the pressures of “bringing back the good stuff” are entering teams’ uniform conversations. “Bring back the good ones.” It’s not easy, and the team shouldn’t necessarily want to.
The Timberwolves have one of the most dedicated fan bases in all of sports. Few would willingly stick with a team that has endured this much misery. With each romanticized memory of jerseys past is ample evidence that the team was suffering. That’s not to dismiss the bright moments but to know that recollections should be tempered.
Adding further memories to each of these unique jersey styles also diminishes their value overall. Part of what makes the tree jerseys so special is that it reminds us of the heyday of Kevin Garnett‘s prime. That was the most successful the Timberwolves have ever been. The Prince jerseys also came after the Wolves ended a decade-long playoff drought, and they paid homage to one of the most profoundly Minnesotan talismans to ever come from this state.
I would argue that the Timberwolves jersey direction should be going forward, not backward. Sometimes the past needs to stay the past. Not every design opportunity should be a callback to the olden days. If Minnesota jersey designs are not moving forward, there will never be a day in the future when we can look back on some of these jerseys and have the same sense of pride.
Are the current normal home/away jerseys good? Absolutely not. That’s not what we’re talking about, though.
Sports jerseys provide a unique opportunity for fans to wear living time capsules of a franchise’s history, both by player names and design. Without progress, that sensation of wonder turns into a monolith that bears no distinction to any era in particular. The Timberwolves are on the cusp of starting a new dynasty, the success of which could rival the days of the tree jerseys.
Keeping that potential success in mind, there may be a time we look back upon these newly-minted Statement jerseys and be reminded of great team success. That sensation alone covers up for any design mishaps and is important to consider in the interest of progress. People are naturally averse to change. Perhaps they resist even more so in an age where being able to post anything on the internet gives an unfounded sense of agency over decisions far out of their control.
Whenever the Timberwolves decide to rebrand, fans will welcome it with open arms, but that may be a ways off. The current era of jerseys will be remembered as one with many ups and downs. But discounting any new rendition of these will fall on deaf ears until a total overhaul happens. Again, the Statements have to follow the regular design. The team appears to have made the most out of the hand they’d been dealt. The design had to move forward somehow. It’s a big win that fans should appreciate rather than disparage.