Wolves Honor Military Members On And Off The Court

Todd Barin

Web Editorial Associate

As part of The FastBreak Foundation’s Operation Minnesota Heroes Month, the Timberwolves hosted over 100 active duty military members and veterans on Tuesday morning to thank them for their service.

The Military Open Practice, which was presented by the Roger and Nancy McCabe Foundation and POPP Communications, provided past and present service members some priceless memories.

“Definitely playing knockout (also known as lightening) with the guys,” Petty Officer John Clarke, a first class Boatswain of the United States Coast Guard, said when asked what his favorite part of the day was. “Just giving high-fives to Karl-Anthony Towns, like are you kidding me? That’s crazy.”

Those present were served brunch on the skyway level at the Mayo Clinic Square, which included a photo session with Crunch and the Timberwolves Dancers, a silent raffle and an arrangement of different pastries.

The service members who were lucky enough to have a winning ticket, had an opportunity to either play P-I-G or lighting against players on the Timberwolves like Tyus Jones, Kevin Martin and Towns.

“It’s more than expected, definitely more than expected,” Master Sergeant Richard Kriveanek said. “Interacting with players and just being here in this great facility, it’s a great opportunity for us and we can’t thank them enough.”

The Timberwolves were also gracious enough to offer the military members a rare opportunity to see a part of their practice.

Minnesota Timeberwolves’ General Manager Milt Newton and Team President Chris Wright were also in attendance and greeted those at the event throughout brunch and practice.

“Thank you all so much for your sacrifice not only for us, but for your family,” Newton said. “You put your lives on the line and there are not many people who are willing to do that, so thank you.”

The positive energy was contagious through the entire event as every player, coach and military member had a smile on their face.

“It makes you feel good as a service member, some people don’t know how to come up and say thank you,” Kriveanek said. “I have people come up and say thank you all the time, but the opportunity to do this and once again to interact with the players it means a lot, it really does.”

Whether they were a part of the Marines, Coast Guard, Army or Air Force, each person seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event and be in awe watching practice and meeting the players.

“Looking up to KG,” Kriveanek answered with a smile on his face when asked what his favorite part of the day was. “Just every player, the coaches, it’s just a great event and I hope it continues.”

Similar in the way that their service does not go unnoticed, the military members present were grateful for the effort put forth by the Timberwolves to make this event possible.

“I’ve had the opportunity to come here and join in with the festivities and I think they really do appreciate us, it’s not just lip-service,” Clarke said. “I think they really think ‘oh, these guys are doing something really good in the community and around the world,’ so it makes me feel good and hopefully it brings inspiration to them.”

Overall the Military Open Practice event was a great success and one that will hopefully take place for many years to come.

“What you guys do for us we really appreciate, it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated,” head coach Sam Mitchell said. “I know sometimes it can feel that way, but we think about it everyday. Every time before a game when they play our National Anthem, our guys take pride in that, because we know that freedom is not free and it costs a lot.”


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