Wolves, Clippers Team Up To Give A Young Fan A Memorable Experience
Editor's Note: Clippers.com was a contributing source for this story. CLICK HERE to read their article.
The Wolves and Clippers joined together to help a Midwestern basketball family enjoy an evening of NBA basketball during a difficult time in their lives.
University of Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery’s 14-year-old son, Patrick, had a malignant tumor on his thyroid removed two weeks ago. Patrick, who is a huge fan of Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul, got the thrill of a lifetime as the two teams worked together to get the McCaffery family seats at Monday’s Wolves/Clippers game and a behind-the-scenes experience that lasted all day.
Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders teamed with Clippers coach Doc Rivers to help make sure the family was able to attend the game and Patrick was able to meet his favorite player.
When Patrick went through being diagnosed with the tumor, he got an incredibly motivating phone call from Paul. According to Clippers.com, Paul spoke with Patrick both before and after the surgery to help keep his spirits up during a difficult time.
“From the beginning, when Dino Guadio and Pat Kelsey first reached out to Chris, Patrick was really scared,” Fran McCaffery told the Clippers official website. “He didn’t know if it was cancer and he had never had surgery. Chris first got on the phone with him and talked about that, ‘It’s okay to be scared.’ They really bonded and he said, ‘I’m going to call you back after the surgery.’ And he did, which really meant a lot to [Patrick]. We kind of loosely talked about it. We’ve got to go see him play and here they were.”
Paul tweeted about getting to talk with Patrick and asked for his fans’ support. With the Clippers coming to Minnesota at the end of March, the Clippers worked with the Timberwolves to set up this special outing.
The McCafferys made the four-hour trip from Iowa City to Minneapolis for the game and also got to take part in shootaround activities with the Clippers in the morning per Rivers’ request.
On the Wolves end, the organization lined up six tickets for the family plus a gift package that included Timberwolves shirts for all seasons (t-shirt, long-sleeve, hoodie, etc.) and hats of a couple different sizes. Saunders also had Kevin Love autograph a jersey for Patrick. The seats were third row, putting them front and center for the action.
“We just look at any opportunities we can to make a kid’s day, especially when they’re going through a tough time,” Vice President of Fan Experience Jeff Munneke said. “We’ll do anything we can to do so.” The Wolves’ front office teamed together to make sure the seats and behind-the-scenes opportunity was in place, and then the Clippers made sure the players and coaches had a chance to meet the McCaffery family.
Saunders and Rivers, who go way back, got together because geographically this was the best chance for the McCaffery family to see the Clippers play.
“We told him the only place he could get close was Minnesota, so come to the game and come to shootaround and we’re going to put him around the team,” Rivers said at shootaround. “He was great. He was out there on the floor during our practice portion. So, that was great for him.”
The whole experience was overwhelming for the McCaffery family.
Clippers.com documented the scene after shootaround, as Patrick shot 3-pointers while talking with Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. His family stood by enjoying the moment, seeing their son smile during a difficult stretch in their lives. The McCafferys said Patrick has another surgery coming up, and another scan as well to determine what other treatment is necessary.
For this day, however, the family got a break, through basketball, and a chance to enjoy some time with Patrick’s favorite player and two teams that wish him all the best.
“When you have a son that’s a phone call that you never expect: malignant tumor,” Fran McCaffery said. “He’s in seventh grade. You don’t expect to get that phone call. When people respond with this type of kindness it means a lot. It means a lot to our family.”
When it comes down to it, the NBA is one big family that works together.
“It’s a neat deal,” Munneke said.