The A-Rod, Lore Era is Not For Losers

Photo: Michael Reaves - Getty Images

Minnesota professional sports organizations are not allowed to mortgage their future, in exchange for established superstar athletes and championship aspirations. Blockbuster trades like the Minnesota Timberwolves sending out FOUR+ 1st round picks and most of their role players, for Rudy Gobert, are to be speculated on and percolated over only. Never actually executed.

Especially in the NBA, where most players see Minnesota as a frozen tundra that’s just as likely to ruin your career as you are to get snow in your shoes in winter. The Timberwolves have been picking up the scraps left to them on the trade market and in free agency for decades. Thus, it’s natural for fans to feel a bit unsettled, after seeing the franchise historically change gears last week.

Winning mentality from the top

But it’s time to get over it. Because the Minnesota Timberwolves made one thing clear when they dealt for Rudy Gobert. This is no longer a team willing to hang back and let the NBA come to them. And if we take a look behind the curtain, this new drive for competitiveness isn’t a short-term “all-in” scenario. How do we know?

Because the driving force in mentality change goes directly to the top of the organization. Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore are why Tim Connelly is here and why Rudy Gobert is now a Wolf.

The Timberwolves, influenced by aggressive new owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore and guided by new president Tim Connelly, now have an intriguing pairing of all-star big men in Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.Ben Golliver (Washington Post)

The costs of winning

Sustainable winning in the NBA isn’t easy and it takes commitment at all levels, especially the financial ones. Success in all professional sports requires an ownership group who cares about winning, just as much as they do making money and they understand that those two key components are deeply intertwined.

The more you win, the more popular you become and the more money you make. But success takes investment. And in sports ownership, unlike other business ventures, more success means a lot more spending. Because a great team needs great players and great players are expensive.

The National Basketball Association uses a soft salary cap but the luxury tax penalties handed down for exceeding it, are no joke. Ask the Warriors, who are facing an offseason FULL of expensive decisions.

Enter Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore

When it was announced that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore were buying the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise, back in the April of 2021, the fanbase lost it’s proverbial mind. There was no way a guy like A-Rod was going to buy a professional sports franchise in Minnesota and keep it in Minnesota, right?

Young, nationally high-profile entrepreneurs like A-Rod and Lore want the bright lights, fame, money and legacy that comes with owning a mainstream sports organization in a big market. That can’t happen in Minnesota, of all places… right? Immediately, we searched for confirmation that the Wolves were moving out of town.

Fortunately, we never really found it. Instead, it’s become clear that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore are NOT moving the Timberwolves out of Minnesota and they’re likely to start campaigning for a new arena in Minneapolis, within the next year or two.

Bringing the spotlight to Minnesota

Does that mean Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore aren’t seeking the big time bright lights of major sports ownership? No. Whether in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, New York or Minneapolis, the Wolves’ new owners are desperately searching for that spotlight. But they clearly believe that light can point north.

How? Winning. They hired stole Tim Connelly from Denver and, less than one month later, traded for Rudy Gobert because those two blockbuster moves, in theory, will bring a lot of winning to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Lore and Rodriguez, the two friends who are scheduled to take over majority control of the Timberwolves at the end of 2023, have been aggressive since joining the organization. They spearheaded the recruitment of Connelly to lead their front office, wanting an experienced executive to push a team that doubled their win total from the previous season into regular contention in the West. They encouraged Connelly to be bold in his maneuvering and it is hard to imagine a more audacious bet. Jon Krawzynski (The Athletic)

Losers can find a new team to cheer for.

If you’re longing for days of incompetence and penny pinching; the kind of operation that’s been plaguing this franchise for most of its 30+ years in existence, then these new-age Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t for you.

If you prefer empty arenas and rostering players more interested in golf, come June, than they are basketball, it’s probably time to find a new team. There’s one thing that Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore have made clear in their short time calling the shots at Mayo Clinic Square. Losing is no longer acceptable now that they’re in charge. And since those two are footing the bill, what do the rest of us have to lose?

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan