On Tuesday, the Timberwolves emerged from a two-week quarantine during which they only shuttled back and forth from a hotel to their practice facilities. But instead of breaking up and everyone heading home, they made a few more stops.
First was a team visit to the George Floyd memorial at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis.
They then got back on the team bus and headed for the Sanneh Foundation in St. Paul, where they participated in the third of three in-person voter registration events the Wolves and Lynx have held over the past few weeks.
It’s fitting this was the sequence of events for the Wolves, since the collective anger and frustration they have felt since Floyd’s death in police custody May 25 inspired them to organize an event like the one at the Sanneh Foundation on Tuesday, when the Wolves and Lynx assisted in handing out food to those in need while also providing resources for people to register to vote.
“[Floyd’s death] was a jumping-off point and in some ways a wake-up call that although we’ve got really strong platforms, maybe we weren’t as aggressive as we need to be with those platforms,” Wolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson said. “So if anything it allowed everybody to look in the mirror, listen a little better, learn a lot more, and then take action and be agents of change.”
The Wolves have held other voter registration events in south Minneapolis and north Minneapolis, their way of putting words spoken since Floyd’s death into action. They’ve joined other teams around Minnesota in pledging to affect change.
The Vikings announced they would donate a portion of a $1 million commitment toward voter education and registration and are working toward the goal of having 100% of the organization registered to vote. A Wolves spokesperson said their team is 100% registered to vote.
The Gophers men’s and women’s basketball teams announced last month that both teams are 100% registered to vote.
Minnesota United FC has worked to help make Allianz Field a primary drop-off site for ballots in Ramsey County, and the Twins have posted links to voter registration information and key election dates on their website.
The U has announced no athletic activities will take place on Election Day, Nov. 3, while the Wolves and Lynx are giving their employees that day off as a company holiday.
On Tuesday, before they broke apart to resume an offseason made lengthy by the coronavirus pandemic, the Wolves made sure to get in a trip to Floyd’s memorial. Several players and staff had gone individually, but the Wolves wanted to make sure everyone in the organization had a chance to visit it, since not everyone lives in Minnesota year-round.
“It was very powerful and impactful to us …” President Gersson Rosas said. “You see things all around the world, the reaction is, ‘Man I wish I could do something,’ but when it happens in your community, in your backyard like it’s happened here, you have to be active.”
Several members of the Wolves and Lynx were present Tuesday, including Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. Lynx guard Rachel Banham was glad to be out among people again after spending so long in the WNBA bubble.
“It’s been hard in the bubble because you can’t be hands-on with stuff …” Banham said. “I was just ready to be around people, help people, do whatever I can.”
Players greeted cars as they drove up to the Sanneh Center and took a few pictures while volunteers, and workers stocked cars with supplies and provided voting information.
“There’s a real support when families coming for food see professional athletes in sports giving back just to say hi to brighten up their day,” Sanneh Foundation’s Tony Sanneh said. “… You see people you normally see on TV right in front of you, talking to you, supporting you, it brings the human back into being human.”