The Minnesota Timberwolves messed up, and this time it surprisingly isn’t basketball related. The Timberwolves are a franchise that have struggled ever since their inception. Over the past 28 seasons of Timberwolves basketball, the team has made the playoffs just eight times, in a league where over half of the teams make the playoffs. It’s been 13 seasons since the Timberwolves last made the playoffs, but with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, the Wolves seemed positioned to make the playoffs this upcoming season. So why the negativity?
When it was announced the Wolves would be getting a makeover, fans got excited. It made sense, the team had never won anything in their old jerseys, not even making a playoff appearance, it felt like the right time to make a change. They hired Rodney Richardson, who handled the rebrands of the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Sacramento Kings. Richardson’s work on those rebrands were mostly bold and refreshing; a welcome change. Richardson talked about how he wanted the new look to represent Minnesota: the hardworking but friendly people, the frigid temperature, the beautiful forests, the North Star and the Northern Lights. Wolves fans had their interest piqued, this is exactly what they wanted to hear.
The first sign of trouble was when the color palette was released. Midnight Navy, Aurora Green, and Lake Blue, are what the Wolves call their primary colors. These colors looked a lot like the Seattle Seahawks colors. Fans were especially shocked by the Aurora Green hue, a bright neon that was a huge departure from the beloved forest green fans were clamoring for.
On April 11, the Wolves debuted their new logo at halftime in a game against Oklahoma City. It featured gray and blue wolf howling up at a blue basketball sky with a a neon green speck, which is supposed the represent the North Star. The reaction was pretty mixed. The biggest complaints most fans had was the blue basketball and neon green star, some compared it to a blueberry. While the reaction was mixed, people were still excited to see the new uniforms.
It wasn’t until August 10 when the new uniforms were shown. The jerseys were mostly plain, but with stripes of the teams colors on the upper portion of the jersey. The team only showed their “Association” and “Icon” versions of the jerseys (Association will be worn at home, Icon on the road), but it was revealed that two more alternate jerseys would be coming.
Many felt the jerseys were uninspired and that the organization played it safe. After all, they are pretty plain besides the odd stripes that are reminiscent of the Washington Wizards uniforms. Most were relieved by the lack of neon, but overall the jerseys were met with a lot of criticism. This is what fans had been waiting for?
On September 15, the Wolves showed off their third jersey, known as the “Statement” uniform. The uniforms are mainly neon green, with navy blue and white stripes. The Wolves say the uniform is an homage to the Northern Lights. All 30 NBA teams showed off their Statement jerseys, and the Wolves uniforms definitely got people talking. But not in a good way. Twitter was set ablaze with people trashing the bright green uniforms. It seemed like a huge disappointment to everyone besides people in the Timberwolves organization.
The Wolves still have yet to unveil their fourth and final jersey, as well as the court design. Overall though, what you see here is what you’re getting: this is the rebranded Minnesota Timberwolves.
It didn’t have to be like this. Rodney Richardson is a talented designer, what he said was inspiration for the design all sounded good. How did this happen? The rebrand might be slightly better than the Wolves past look, but not by much.
First, lets address the color palette. The biggest miss of the whole rebrand is the Aurora Green color. It’s too bright, it looks like a color that would come in a pack of highlighters. In Minnesota, green is everywhere. How many times have you seen this neon green though? Minnesota is filled with trees, a darker forest green would be much more suitable. One of the best things the Wolves have ever done is having the forest green trees on the outside edges of their black uniforms in the Kevin Garnett era. Beyond the green, two blues is just unnecessary. It is reminiscent of the Dallas Mavericks. Pick one and stick with it.
Next, the logo. The logo is mostly inoffensive, but there is way too much blue. The dark navy wolf and banner around the ball just does not work with the brighter blue color that makes up the ball. The wolf itself is cool looking, it’s an improvement from the old snarling one. If the colors were adjusted slightly, the logo would look much improved. On Reddit, users have posted mock-ups of the logo with different colors and it looks better.
Finally, lets talk jerseys. The neon green alternate is not a good look at all, but the main two are passable. The stripes feel weirdly necessary because of how plain the rest of the jersey is. These could jerseys for any team in the league, they look like something someone would design in the NBA 2K games. It would have been nice if the organization were more willing to take a risk and be bold. Rodney Richardson is a bold guy, look what he did to the Hawks uniforms. Now, those jerseys might not be your cup of tea, but at least they tried something different.
Things are turning around for the Minnesota Timberwolves, at least on the court. It’s a shame that their rebrand does not come close to matching the excitement around the players on the court. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler deserve better. Wolves fans who have put up with a largely terrible product for 28 seasons deserve better. But when the Wolves start winning, logo and jerseys aren’t going to matter.