Timberwolves trying to build a winning culture


There’s a particular thought process that I absolutely hate but is always used in the world of sports, and it’s not specific to the Timberwolves. It usually goes something like, “To build a good team, you must build a winning culture in the locker room.”

It’s the perfect cliche that all head coaches, general managers, and owners use when they conduct their yearly interviews. The quote, “you must build a winning culture” is very easy to say because it makes total sense, but it is also very difficult to define – perhaps, even, undefinable. And that’s why I hate it.

There’s another phrase in the NBA: “WWTSD” or better known as, “What Would The Spurs Do?” The San Antonio Spurs have been a juggernaut since 1997, and it continues to this day. They have veterans, youth, talent, masterminds, ownership, and everything in between. But how is it done? Small-market NBA franchises aren’t supposed to be able to do that.

And while the purpose of this article isn’t to write about how great the Spurs are, it certainly would show an efficient path to achieving said winning culture.

Are the signings of Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince, and Andre Miller the start of building a “winning culture” or are those the players that are simply looking to play one more year and then retire?

Kevin Garnett has expressed his love for Minnesota and his desire to be a part of the Wolves long-term plans, but a winning culture isn’t built by one person. It can be started by one person, but it takes a group of people to believe and trust in the system.

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An owner can be the beginning of a winning culture, but the players’, ultimately, have to be the ones to sustain it. The one thing that often stops sustained winning is money, which is largely the result of a players ego and the harsh reality of the salary cap. Everyone states that winning is the most important thing but when the final decision comes, many of them will elect to sign the $110 million contract to generate more revenue for themselves instead of signing the $95 million contract to generate more wins for the team.

That is why the Spurs organization is so amazing. Their stars have taken pay cuts so that they can get better players around there stars. The most important thing to the Spurs is winning, through and through.

It’s also the most difficult part in building a winning culture. You have to find players who want to win first and achieve money second. You have to find players who can set their egos aside for the betterment of the team. But still, there has to be more to it.

LeBron James took the 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals with Larry Hughes as the second scoring option, but Cleveland still couldn’t get any notable players in their prime to join LeBron in Cleveland. Now, everyone wants to play with LeBron in Cleveland, so what’s the deal with that? LeBron has always been a team first guy, but why did people finally notice it after he went back to Cleveland?

It’s because LeBron became the most powerful figure in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins will not likely become that, so he will need help.

Wiggins is young and talented, but will he generate enough respect over the course of his next three or four seasons to get other talented players to come play in Minnesota? Probably not. Karl-Anthony Towns is young and talented, but will he generate enough respect over the course of his next three or four seasons to get other talented players to come play in Minnesota? Probably not.

But could they, together – with the help from Kevin Garnett as our future owner – generate enough respect around the NBA, to get talented players to come to Minnesota? Could they, together, take slight pay cuts in the future to get other talented players around them that could result in a possible Finals bid?


Here’s hoping that the Timberwolves are the next San Antonio Spurs.

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