A Big Hug Can Go A Long Way

I’d say the cutest moment I’ve witnessed here at Target Center at a Wolves game happened just before tipoff between Minnesota and Golden State this afternoon. While meeting with a group of kids from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and their families, Love knelt down and received the biggest hug from a young girl, no more than 4 years old and wearing pink glasses, before Love signed her on-court credential.

No lie, it seemed like a 10-second hug. Full embrace. So cute, and a special moment for those on hand to witness it.

“To be out here and to get a big hug like that,” Love said, smiling, “that’s rare.”

It came at a special time for Love, who received the KIA Community Assist Award before today’s game in connection with his work collecting coats in his fifth annual Kevin Love Coat Drive earlier this season. He also is taking part in a week-long initiative as NBA Cares and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital team with The V Foundation and ESPN to fight pediatric cancer. Over the week, the group will raise money to help with cancer research.

It’s the latest partnership with Love and St. Jude, which dates back to his rookie season when he met St. Jude patient Dylan Witschen, a young Minnesota native who ultimately lost his battle with cancer.

These are just two small examples of the type of character members of the Wolves franchise have on this team. And believe me, I’ve been around enough professional sports organizations to know when it’s welcomed activity or unwanted work. The Wolves organization as a whole takes great pride in being able to impact their community—something they take very seriously. And with this 2012-13 squad, the players take great in helping make those initiatives a reality.

Already this season they’ve served military veterans to show their appreciation for their service over the past 70 years, they’ve joined together to bring kids awaiting adoption for a shopping spree at Target, they’ve served food to patrons at Arby’s to raise awareness for donation promotions to help raise money for causes in our region and they’ve personally delivered toys to Amplatz Children’s Hospital during the holiday season.

I’ve said it before but it’s such a cool sight to see what a sports organization realizes it can do to impact the community, and then as a collective unit it works together to do as much as it can to reach as many lives as possible during the season. We’ve got a complete archive of all the FastBreak Foundation’s work so far this season on Timberwolves.com, and it’s a remarkable looking back at all the good that can come out of an organization that puts a premium on helping those around them.

It’s something Wolves players have noticed throughout their time with the team.

“It’s awesome,” Love said. “You come in to the NBA and you want to get so many team and individual accolades, but you try to find a way to make a mark on the community.”

I see the impact it makes on peoples’ faces when I go and cover events. I’ve been at Amplatz and watched as patients and their parents are touched as players coming by to spend time with them. I’ve seen players help kids learn the value of exercise in their lives and help dedicate brand new gymnasium facilities for youth in the area to use for years to come.

It’s touching to see.

When I was a kid, any time I got to see an athlete off the court or off the field was special. Just seeing Vikings outside the Metrodome in the parking lot used to be a thrill on a Sunday morning or afternoon. So when athletes take the time to lend a hand to those in need, it means even more. When they work with the FastBreak Foundation or step outside into their own foundations or initiatives, they make a difference.

So when I saw that little girl give Love a hug today, I took notice. Such a special moment for the people in that group. It’s an important part of sports, and one the Wolves continue to stay focused on year-round, day by day.

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.