Thursday night the Gorgui Dieng Foundation, the Timberwolves forward’s organization designed to help his native Senegal, held its fourth annual fundraiser.
It was a gratifying evening, Dieng said. And not just because of the general success of the event. Coaches, support staff, people from the business office were there.
As were all of his teammates.
“It showed team bonding,” Dieng said. “I was very pleased all my teammates came out and supported. They showed how much they cared. Like I always said, they’re like brothers to me.
“I see them more than my family. So it was big for me, that they showed up and supported that cause.”
The Wolves, injury-ravaged, are out of the NBA playoff race. But, as a team, they have continued to play together and play hard.
If you’re looking for a reason, perhaps part of it is the culture being developed by interim coach Ryan Saunders and the tightness of the players in the locker room.
Another example: The Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation’s online drive to raise money for breast health awareness and research will end Sunday night.
Players’ pregame worn, or issued, shooting shirts and custom-designed Kickstradomis shoes are being auctioned off, with money going for research through Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.
This comes on the heels of the news that Tyus Jones’ mother, Debbie, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As she often is, she will be in attendance when the Wolves host Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon.
The family announced the diagnosis a while back on Instagram, saying it had been caught early and that Debbie Jones was doing well.
After Friday’s victory over Miami, Tyus Jones talked about what this auction meant to him.
“It’s something [the Timberwolves] didn’t have to do,” he said. “Myself and my family are very thankful and honored for the Timberwolves organization to be doing that. It says a lot about the people we have here. I’m excited for it. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great cause.”
And it was an easy call.
“It’s extremely important,” said Saunders, who lost his father, Flip, to cancer. “It’s obviously something that is close to us as a team. Because, when one of our family members is down, or is hurting, we want to be there to pick him up.
“We’re there for Tyus. And we’re there for Debbie and the Jones family. We love them, and we love everybody involved within our family.
“It’s a good initiative on the Timberwolves part. There are a lot of people that have been working with it, just to bring awareness to it. But also to with a good cause.”
The shirts and shoes worn from Sunday’s game will become a part of the online auction, which will end at 10 p.m. Sunday night.
Those interested can join the bidding at timberwolves.com/auction.
following Friday’s victory, Saunders talked about how a strong finish could carry over to next season. It was an idea Karl-Anthony Towns echoed in the locker room. “We’re working for the playoffs next year,” he said. “Even though we can’t make it this year, why not start the work right now?”