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Two hours after the Timberwolves’ last-second win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night, the Wolves were back in action. But it wasn’t on the court. At 11:18 p.m. on Sunday night, a Twit Pic surfaced on Twitter with a group of Minnesota teammates huddled, smiling, around a sleeping Michael Beasley.
Martell Webster, Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Brad Miller and Wes Johnson all crouched around their resting teammate. Hat tilted, buds his in ears and computer in his lap, Beasley’s inopportune shuteye was nearly instantaneously amusing flocks of Timberwolves fans around the globe—accompanied by a lone note from @rickyrubio9: “What do you think about it?”
Which brings us to lesson No. 1: When you’re with the Wolves, no one is safe from social media nonsense.
“K-Love is infamous for snapping pictures and putting them on Twitter,” guard Wayne Ellington said. “You’ve always got to be careful around those guys.”
Twitter has revolutionized the relationship between the fan and the professional athlete. Never during previous eras did the general public have the opportunity to see such candid moments taking place on planes or in locker room settings.
That’s what is driving this group of Timberwolves. When a moment happens that they think their fans or friends might like, they take advantage of it with a Twit Pic, a video or a written message. Not too long ago these players were young basketball players looking up to professional athletes. Today, they get the chance to interact with their own fans instantaneously.
“That’s the funnest part—just being able to share that type of moment with fans,” Tolliver said. “They’d never be able to see us on a plane or a private facility while we’re doing recovery stuff in a cold tank. It’s just, fans love that kind of stuff and we get to share it with everybody. It’s kind of fun.”
The Wolves have become notorious for such moments this season. On Sunday before the Sixers game, Twit Pics surfaced from the team’s locker room showing a rookie initiation involving kids’ backpacks: Disney for Derrick Williams, Hello Kitty for Malcolm Lee and Justin Bieber for Ricky Rubio.
Earlier this season while on the road in Dallas, photos of Wolves players using cryotherapy tanks began appearing online. Ellington, Love, Williams and Tolliver all had photos individually using the treatment, which included sitting in a metal tub of liquid nitrogen mis as cold as minus-166 degrees Fahrenheit to recuperate their aches and pains.
But it’s not just fun—it’s practical. Rubio tweets in both English and Spanish to communicate with his fans around the globe. Tolliver and Lee often do Wolves ticket giveaways through trivia questions.
Lee, who went ice fishing with Williams earlier this year on Lake Waconia, threw photos and videos on Twitter throughout the experience.
“I thought it would be fun to show people us ice fishing, because me and Derrick, we’ve never done that before,” Lee said. “I wanted to share that first time experience with my followers.”
Lee’s key to survival in the Wolves’ locker room?
“You’ve got to make sure of your belongings and stuff,” he said, joking. “I think Kevin got to Ricky early, taking pictures of that Hello Kitty bag right there. So I think he might have put that on Twitter. You’ve got to watch that.”
Case in point: If you’re curious about what the Timberwolves are up to during the season, your answer is likely a click and a follow away.
“It’s a good way to stay connected with fans and be able to reach out and let them know what is going on. Plus, we’re always on there checking out what other people are doing, also,” Ellington said. “It’s a fun tool. It’s very creative.”
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.