The Minnesota Timberwolves have a very cool tradition and a tradition that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took notice of.
If you watch a Minnesota Timberwolves game on TV, you see the game and you see some ads and that is about it. If you watch a Timberwolves game at Target Center you get to see a lot more. From the mascot Crunch banging on a drum, to asking the crowd who wants tee shirt, to the probably-not-really-needed DJ spinning tunes, everywhere is a distraction to keep you tuned into the arena. While some of them are cheesy, some are quite powerful.
Every game at Target Center there is a time set aside for Heroes of the Pack. The PA announcer introduces the crowd to a member of the United States Armed Forces as they walk to half court and are presented a jersey. The entirety of the attendance gets on their feet and cheers for this soldier standing in front of everyone. It is simply a really cool moment every game.
On Wednesday night, the Heroes of the Pack segment was going on on the floor with 2:35 left of the second quarter. The Timberwolves had gotten out to a 48-41 lead after trailing by six heading into the quarter. It was probably the worst quarter the Spurs played all season but their head coach Gregg Popovich was not in his huddle.
Popovich was outside his team huddle looking at the soldier at half court and applauding like the paying customers in the seats. While his team was completely melting down, Popovich took the time to applaud a solider from Minnesota.
Popovich didn’t do this to make a scene or for it to be mentioned. You wouldn’t have even noticed it if you weren’t looking at him during the timeout, but you can easily get entranced watching one of the best coaches in NBA history.
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If you do a Google search for Gregg Popovich right now, one of the first results is an article stating how he is ‘the most woke’ coach in the NBA. He’s an observant and very smart man. He’s not afraid to share his thoughts on many things and he knows there is more to life than basketball.
I don’t know Popovich and he doesn’t know me. What he did on Wednesday was really cool to me, though. I don’t think I’d be able to not be in my team’s huddle when my team was imploding, heck, I don’t think I’d able not to be in it if my team was up by 20. Popovich isn’t just any old coach though.
The Timberwolves won the game 98-86 and absolutely destroyed San Antonio in the second quarter 39-19, but sometimes the stuff not in the game is what sticks with you the most.
If you are interested in seeing more about the Heroes of the Pack program, you can find a gallery of past honorees on the Timberwolves official website.