What did Timberwolves fans wear to the Western Conference finals?

The Timberwolves have been an NBA franchise for 35 seasons and have made it beyond the first round of the playoffs in exactly two of them.

You might have heard this before. This is not a team that has enjoyed much success over its existence, so fans have understandably been over the moon with this year’s playoff run — a run that might be coming to a sudden end if the Wolves can’t find a way to make history by becoming the first team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games.

Interested as we always are to see how fans dress for games — see what we did in October for the Twins’ playoff games at Target Field — we went to Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Mavericks to surreptitiously take pictures of just that. Notably, we were hoping to see how many lesser-known players’ jerseys people would pull out of their closets, and they did not disappoint. Still, it was pretty clear who the most popular choice was …

Ant, and more Ant

t should come as no surprise that the most popular jersey was that of Anthony Edwards. More specifically, his Classic Edition No. 5 was probably the most commonly seen, as evidenced by the photo at the very top of this article …

… But there were Edwards jerseys of all sorts — including many bearing No. 1, the number he wore for three seasons before switching to 5 this season. Interestingly, there were at least a handful of Edwards jerseys in styles the Wolves haven’t worn recently (such as the Prince purple City Edition jerseys, which the Wolves wore in 2018-19, before Edwards’ arrival), but I guess when you’re far and away the most popular player on the team, people want custom jerseys done up.

KAT’s out of the bag

As the Wolves’ longest-tenured player, Karl-Anthony Towns has worn more different jerseys than any other current or former player, as represented here. Incidentally, we didn’t realize how long the Wolves have had their current logo; it’s already been seven seasons? The new look came in with Jimmy Butler in 2017.

KG remains king

Kevin Garnett remains missing from Target Center, and his No. 21 has yet to be retired in the rafters, but the greatest Wolves player of all time remains much-loved by the team’s fans. For whatever reason, the blue road jersey pictured in the top-left corner was especially popular; Garnett only wore those his rookie season of 1995-96, before the Wolves had their first uniform makeover the following year.

We have Jaden McDaniels

We were a little surprised; by our very unofficial count, Jaden McDaniels’ No. 3 might have been the third-most popular Wolves jersey, or at least tied with the No. 11 of Naz Reid. We would have guessed Rudy Gobert, but he seemingly comes in at fifth place.

Naz Reid? Naz Reid

What more can you say? Besides “I wish he’d hit that three-pointer at the end of Game 2,” anyway.

And the other guys

There’s other players on the team, too, of course. Gobert and Mike Conley jerseys were frequent, others less so. We’re not sure what’s up with “Conley Jr.” on the right; we saw a few of these, but Mike Conley has only had “Conley” on his back since joining the Wolves last year.

Keeping up with the times

It’s one thing to just slap on a new name on your jersey to stay up to date. Turning Jimmy Butler into Monte Morris? Easy peasy. But the mathematical gymnastics to turn your Kris Dunn No. 3 jersey into an Anthony Edwards one is impressive. At some point this fan even changed the meaning of the 2+3 on his back; it started out as a 23 for Butler and then Jarrett Culver, before switching to 5 for Malik Beasley, Kyle Anderson and finally Ant.

Let’s remember some guys

Some numerical trivia for you. The No. 1 has been worn by more players than anyone else in Wolves history, 16; second-most is No. 4, with 14, although it’s not in use right now. The single-digit number with the fewest players is No. 0, although two of them are represented here in Jeff Teague and D’Angelo Russell. If you can identify the other No. 0 as Othyus Jeffers for two games in April 2014, give yourself a prize.

No. 14 seems like a pretty standard basketball uniform number to us, but curiously, only three Wolves have ever worn it, and none since Nikola Pekovic in 2016; maybe it’s believed to be cursed with foot injuries. And for a guy who appeared in only 60 games over two seasons with the Wolves, you can see how popular Derrick Rose was, as there were a surprising number of people walking around with his No. 25.

There was definitely someone wearing a green No. 67 Taj Gibson at Game 1, but we spotted them from too far away and never got close for a picture. Too bad.

Going back a bit further

A lot of “what could have been” in this group. Respect to the guy wearing the late Malik Sealy’s No. 2 jersey at Game 1; Karl-Anthony Towns wore the white version during his news conference that day. There’s three 1990s players here wearing No. 24; at least, we think it’s three. We imagine the No. 24 original white jersey with no name on the back represents Pooh Richardson, the first draft pick in franchise history? Incidentally, eight former Gophers have played for the Wolves as well, but No. 24 is the only uniform number to be worn by two of them; Quincy Lewis followed former college teammate Bobby Jackson with the number in 2004.

You don’t usually win when you play the lottery

To know Wolves history is to know that they have mostly not been good, and hand-in-hand with that fact is their often woeful choices in the NBA draft. These six were all lottery picks who combined to average 9.2 points per game with the Wolves. (We did the math.) Is it unfair to lump Rashad McCants and Shabazz Muhammad in this group when they were both drafted 14th, the very last pick in the lottery, while the other four were all top-six picks? Possibly. Muhammad wasn’t even a Wolves selection, but they acquired him and 21st overall pick Gorgui Dieng from Utah on draft night for ninth pick Trey Burke. Not a bad swap overall, but the Wolves missed out on taking Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went 15th to Milwaukee. (And we won’t mention who was drafted right after Jonny Flynn in 2009.)

Let’s really remember some guys

Now these are some names. Yeah, Nemanja Bjelica played here for three seasons, but do you really expect to see someone rocking the No. 8 Belly jersey? Mark Madsen was here twice as long — six seasons! — but he only played in 270 games over that span, averaging 5.5 points. In Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved you have a couple of Russians who played here together in 2012-13, when Ricky Rubio famously told the unhappy Shved to “change this face.” Martell Webster, Michael Beasley and Brandon Roy were all here the year before, three more top draft picks horded by David Kahn in his mad scientist attempt to put a good team together. (None of it worked.) Roy, you might remember, was drafted by the Wolves sixth overall in 2006 but traded on draft night to Portland for Randy Foye; Roy went on to be Rookie of the Year, but by the time he circled back to Minnesota he had already retired once because of knee injuries. His comeback lasted five games before he needed knee surgery again, and that led to his permanent retirement.

Jerseys we wish we’d seen

Yes, yes, we know you all love Anthony Edwards and Kevin Garnett. But somewhere out there, in someone’s closet, there has to be a Wolves jersey for one of these guys:

No. 1 Anthony Peeler

No. 3 Sebastian Telfair

No. 4 Micheal Williams

No. 8 Rasho Nesterovic

No. 10 Shane Heal

No. 19 Tony Campbell

No. 21 Stacey King

No. 23 Trenton Hassell

No. 24 Anthony Bennett

No. 30 Mark Blount

No. 31 Darko Milicic

No. 32 Joe Smith

No. 41 Juancho Hernangómez

No. 42 Sam Mitchell

No. 43 Chris Carr

No. 44 Ndudi Ebi

No. 45 Chuck Person

No. 50 Trevor Winter

No. 55 Marko Jaric

There’s always the next playoff run, I guess.

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