Wolves Fans Take In All-Star Weekend In New Orleans
For Minnesotans Dave Bjerknes and Diane Pettit, New Orleans is a home away from home. The Edina residents have been frequenting the city for years and now have a home in the city as well, giving them the opportunity to come down and enjoy the food, culture and festivities when their schedule allows.
“It’s a wonderful, oftentimes misunderstood city,” Bjerknes said. “But truly American in every way.”
And as fans who have been Timberwolves members for 17 years at Target Center, this weekend posed the perfect opportunity for them to merge their love of basketball with their love for New Orleans. The two have been here in Louisiana this week participating in their first-ever All-Star Weekend.
The city is ever-hosting events, ranging from the Carnival Season to the annual All-State Sugar Bowl to the occasional Super Bowl—which was here in 2013. Bjerknes and Pettit have taken in many of those events over the years and know how New Orleans is able to handle every type of celebration. This weekend is no different, as the NBA rolled into town with their NBA Jam Session at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center as well as the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, All-Star Saturday Night and the All-Star Game—all at Smoothie King Center.
And this year, Bjerknes and Pettit had the opportunity to take in Kevin Love’s first trip to All-Star Weekend as a starter—his third overall. They’ve been able to see him taking part in his All-Star Saturday Night appearance in the Foot Locker Three Point Contest as well as the Western Conference practice on Saturday morning. They’ll be there for the All-Star Game tonight, which tips off at 7 PM CT on TNT.
For them, perhaps the best part of the weekend is seeing how the best players in the league interact with one another when they’re not in their regular team settings. Being able to see their personalities shine through as they support each other in other competitions throughout the weekend and chat on the sidelines during practice is a unique experience during this particular weekend.
“That kind of stuff, you don’t see that sort of thing when they’re out on the floor,” Pettit said. “You see it a little bit with the Olympics last year with the U.S. team, and it’s kind of nice to see who talks, who doesn’t talk, what’s going on, if they’ve got any rivalries no matter what or if they’re all buddies when they’re on the same time. I think it’s kind of interesting to see guys in the same positions like Kevin Love and Blake Griffin, whether or not they’ve still got the competition there.”
With the way the NBA sets up All-Star Weekend, there are opportunities to see that type of dynamic throughout the weekend. Love, for instance, was at the Celebrity Game on Friday night. Dwight Howard was at the Rising Stars Challenge—during the Friday and All-Star Saturday Night festivities, you had players sitting near the court reacting and enjoying the moment.
“It just provides a lot of excitement for the game,” Bjerknes said. “What you really see is at the All-Star events it doesn’t matter what team people are cheering for. They love the game. And that’s us, we love basketball.”
That’s what All-Star Weekend is all about—showcasing the best talent in the league both through their play on the court and their reaction, enjoyment and appreciation for the game. That makes it even more enjoyable for the fans. Bjerknes and Pettit had a chance to see that.
And they got to experience it in one of their favorite cities, where they’ve adopted a second home.
It was a special weekend in the Big Easy.
“One great thing about New Orleans is they know how to handle crowds and events like no other,” Pettit said.