Timberwolves Host Building Bridges Through Basketball Community Discussion

The Timberwolves hosted a community event that was a bit different than most.

On Monday, the Timberwolves and the FastBreak Foundation hosted 20 local youth and five officers from the Minneapolis Police Department to participate in a Building Bridges through Basketball event with players Karl-Anthony Towns, Jamal Crawford and Cole Aldrich. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was also in attendance. 

The group participated in a facilitated discussion that created a safe space for a candid conversation exploring perceptions and dynamics affecting law enforcement and youth from the communities they serve. The purpose was to encourage participants to share their perspectives, experiences and collectively brainstorm and spotlight programmatic solutions to build a stronger, safer Minneapolis. The event took place at the Timberwolves & Lynx practice facility inside Mayo Clinic Square.

“Obviously, whenever you can bring out youth in the community and bring officers together, to just hear the different perceptions and hear the thoughts,” Crawford said after the event. “I think it was really important to get that dialogue. . . Trying to find a common ground. I thought it was very important.”

Talks between the two sides started out slow. It was a place where all sides might have felt uncomfortable, but according to Kim Miller, the Vice President of Leadership and Education Programs at RISE, that led to a “healthy dialogue to help build a stronger community together.”

Most of the conversations focused around police and youth relationships and how we can improve that, together.

“I think just having these conversations will help me spread the word for other teenagers like me and I think that it’s a good point to touch on because these little details and understanding the law could affect your friends and somebody you love . . . That’s big,” Charles, a student, said.

The idea for this originated with Carmelo Anthony back in 2016. Towns and the NBA’s community team had a discussion in China prior to the season about how the Wolves could do something similar to that. That’s where this idea was born.

“For us to come in and be part of it, it’s truly humbling,” Towns said. “We brought a lot of leaders in who are going to go tell their friends and influence so much more of the culture of people and how they view the police. But we know we have a lot more work to do.”