Four months before the NBA granted Minnesota a franchise, the nickname of "Timberwolves" was selected as the winner of a "Name the Team" contest. Fans throughout and beyond Minnesota submitted 6,076 entries featuring 1,284 different nicknames. Timberwolves, which was submitted 17 times, and Polars were the finalists. The other 1,282 entries ran through a number of different categories, including animals, fish, political interests, outer space, already-existing team names, some names that had to be researched in a dictionary and a potpourri of nicknames that no specific category could claim.
Upon the selection of the two finalists, the choice of whether the NBA team would be the Timberwolves or Polars was left up to the 842 City Councils around the state. They rendered their decision and only one task was left: to determine the winner of the contest.
The names of the 17 entrants who submitted "Timberwolves" were placed in a drawing, which was won by Tim Pope of Brooklyn Center, Minn., who received a trip to the 1987 NBA All-Star Weekend in Seattle.
A most appropriate nickname was chosen for the state's NBA team, as Minnesota is home to the largest population of timberwolves in the lower 48 states. Here are some facts about the timberwolf: There are about 1,200 wolves in Minnesota, accounting for all but approximately 75 others in the continental U.S.
The statewide population of Minnesota wolves increased for a few years after passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which prohibited the public taking of wolves in 1974, and has remained relatively stable since then.
Wolf range covers the northern third of Minnesota, with most wolves found in the least accessible forested areas.
The wolf is on the federal Endangered Species List, classified as "threatened" in Minnesota, and endangered elsewhere in the 48 contiguous states.
The state is home to the International Wolf Center, a comprehensive research center and wolf exhibit area, located in Ely, Minn.
The Twin Cities-based Minnesota Zoo and the Science Museum of Minnesota both have exhibits highlighting the state's timberwolves.
How the First Logo was Chosen
The Timberwolves also held a public contest for the design of the first official team logo.
Over 2,600 entries were submitted, some from as far away as Norway, Alaska, Florida and California. But it was a Minnesota native who submitted the wolf that Club President Bob Stein described as "aggressive, but not sinister." Mark Thompson, a professional artist originally from Austin, Minn., received $2,500 for his entry. The final determination of the winning logo was made by original team owners Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner after receiving input from NBA marketing experts, sporting goods companies and television networks.
The first use of the logo was on Sept. 17, 1987, appearing on a $20,000 check donated to United Way bureaus in Minneapolis and St. Paul.