Taste of the Timberwolves 2011-12 Recap

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

James Mattson is no stranger to Target Center. Having bought Timberwolves season tickets during various parts of the past 15 years, he’s spent his fair share of time in the arena and likely has experienced much of the franchise’s ups and downs right along with the club.

But Tuesday night was a first. Mattson, an Elk River resident, decided to take in the Taste of the Timberwolves event for the first time. Thinking it would be a great birthday gift for his daughter, Mattson and his group enjoyed an evening of food, entertainment and meet-and-greets with players under ballroom lights on the Target Center floor.

The best part?

“The players, to be honest with you,” Mattson said. “They’re just normal people, just like us.”

Each year the Timberwolves put on the Taste of the Timberwolves gala, which serves as the team’s primary fundraiser for the FastBreak Foundation. This year marked the 17th annual Taste of the Timberwolves event, presented by Starkey Hearing Foundation and cornerstone sponors POPP Communications and Log House Foods. The "Taste-ing" portion of the evening allowed patrons to sample cuisine from many of the Twin Cities' top restaurants while meeting and taking photos with players, coaches and cheerleaders. Fans were able to bid on silent and live auction items, and the evening concluded with the players participating in a Family Feud game show at the end of the evening.

2 Gingers, Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi, Bar 508, Caribou Coffee, CRAVE/Sopranos, Dickey's BBQ, Ellsworth Creamery, FACES, Granite City Foods & Brewery, Huberts/A Chef's Production, Log House Foods, Kierens, MillerCoors, Northern Vineyards, O'Donovan's, Pepsi, Pinstripes, Seven, Skydeck, Vescios and Wilfire Grill all took part in this year's event.

Tuesday’s event not only gave fans a chance to build their own memories, but it also helped provide an avenue for the FastBreak Foundation to make memorable moments happen for those in need around the Twin Cities over the upcoming year. Proceeds from the event help fund initiatives like Holiday Shopping for Kids, the in-game Heroes in the Making program and reading and learning center renovations, among other things.

Fans enjoyed the chance to take photos with the team’s standout players like Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, chatted with coach Rick Adelman and enjoyed Michael Beasley’s patented entertainment skills. They bid on silent auction items ranging from an autographed Magic Johnson and Larry Bird photo to jerseys, bats and paintings.

Live auction items included a fishing trip with Nikola Pekovic, a trip to next year’s All-Star Game in Houston and courtside tickets to an upcoming Wolves game at Target Center.

The winners of the event are the people who will benefit from the fans’ generous donations toward the FastBreak Foundation’s cause.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said. “We’re having a great year, and (the fans) come out and support us not only coming to games, but also come out and support us in this venture of helping mostly youth in our community. So I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the players, I’m proud of the fans, and it’s fun to be part of this night.”

After fans had a chance to make their rounds meeting the players and testing some of the Twin Cities’ finest fare, fans moved to the opposite end of the court and enjoyed a presentation emceed by Wolves Radio Announcer Alan Horton. The program included the live auction and special game of Family Feud, which faced “Team Anthony Tolliver” against “Team Kevin Love” in the popular television game show.

Hosted by B-Wright, the Wolves’ in-game courtside voice, the two teams went toe to toe for three rounds. Love’s squad of Ricky Rubio, JJ Barea, Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Brad Miller and Luke Ridnour came out victorious.

Barea, who is in his first year with the team, said being part of the night was a memorable experience.

“The people have been great, man,” he said. “The fans are awesome. They’re giving us support on how great the season is going. It’s great to come out here, talk to them and get their point of view.”

The fans enjoyed the one-on-one time, too. Mitch Spencer brought his wife and one of his daughters to the event. He said seeing the smile on his daughter’s face, along with the money that goes to helping children in the area, are the best parts of the night.

“It’s been absolutely spectacular,” Spencer said. “It’s nice of them to put this on and raise money.”

It was a night for all fans to enjoy. Traci Slopek, who attended the night with Mattson, said she is just becoming a basketball fan this year. Getting a chance to be part of Taste of the Timberwolves only helped elevate her newfound appreciation for the sport.

“I talked to Derrick Williams earlier,” Slopek said. “We brought my daughter to a game, and he gave her his towel. Now she’s in love with Derrick. He’s her player. It makes a big difference.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.