How some ugly golf helped the struggling Wolves play beautifully

Published 8:14 am Wednesday, December 26, 2018

By Chris Hine

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

The social media feeds of the Timberwolves filled up with video after video Saturday night of players like Andrew Wiggins and Taj Gibson stepping up to a golf tee and taking some … unorthodox golf swings. Sometimes they would miss the ball completely.

Email newsletter signup

But the team outing at a Topgolf driving range in Oklahoma City was worth more than a few laughs to the Wolves. After their 114-112 win over the Thunder on Sunday night, multiple players said the previous night had been an important one for team bonding.

“You got to be able to communicate, talk about what we need to do better but just kick back,” Gibson said. “It was everybody just understanding, putting in their two pieces to the puzzle and trying to relate to one another. I felt it was great.”

It wasn’t as if the Wolves were a fractured team before this. But the season has been a turbulent one. It began with all the weight of Jimmy Butler’s trade request and when Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and Dario Saric joined the team, the Wolves were in the thick of the season.

One staffer said Karl-Anthony Towns was the driving force behind organizing Saturday night’s outing. The time for these kinds of events is minimal, but they’re essential, Covington said, adding the 76ers would hold regular events like that.

“It’s building team chemistry. It’s very important for teams that want to be successful. You need stuff like that,” Covington said. “You need outlets, that way you can have fun. It doesn’t have to be all about basketball, taking your mind away from basketball instead of having to be by yourself all the time.”

Gibson said team veterans were able to communicate their past experiences in the league with some of the younger players.

“We have a team full of vets and they always share their wisdom with us,” Wiggins said.

Rookie Josh Okogie, who drew laughs for whiffing on one of his drive attempts, said the night out came at a pivotal time, with the Wolves in a precarious position in toward the bottom of the Western Conference standings.