One Timberwolves fan leaned over the second-floor railing at Mayo Clinic Square and watched a player he played against in AAU ball get introduced as a member of his favorite team. Another fan, wearing a retro Mitchell & Ness Timberwolves T-shirt, said he dipped out of work to attend.
At 1:07 p.m., Timberwolves draft selections Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones arrived at their introductory news conference at the team’s practice facility. The event was open to members of the public, who could watch from a second-story balcony.
“To have the press conference in the new practice facility and to make it open to the public and to have fans be here to watch is just amazing,” Timberwolves fan Barrett Goetz said. “To have everyone in here, a place that’s going to be a signature facility and cornerstone for the franchise for the next few decades, is pretty cool.”
David Mooers, a Timberwolves fan who attended, played against Jones in AAU as a member of the Minnesota Heat when Jones played for the Howard Pulley Panthers. Mooers also attended a few of Jones’ games at Apple Valley.
“To be able to have Tyus come in as someone I actually played against is cool, to know how good and how talented he actually is, it’s super exciting,” Mooers said. “Once Cleveland took him, even before that, that was my hope that we’d be able to trade 31 and 36 back to get Tyus here to Minnesota.”
About 30 fans lined the second-floor railing. Most people who walked through the skyway level either didn’t notice or didn’t seem to care.
But fans who did attend spoke positively about the team’s future.
“I’ve always wanted Karl since I saw him basically jump out of the gym and block a couple of shots,” said Mitch Wegner, who wore a white Zach LaVine T-shirt jersey. “And obviously, you’ve got to go with the hometown kid. Tyus getting here was just icing.
“[The event] was awesome. I’ve never been able to see one of these before, so the fact that they just had it right here and invited anyone to come out was awesome.”
At 11:07 a.m., Towns and Jones had arrived at Nicollet Mall and South 6th Street and walked the skyway to the practice facility. Fans flocked to take pictures and offer words of encouragement. Most fans clapped, and a few shouted, “Bring us a ring!”
The newest Timberwolves posed for a few selfies and quietly spoke to each other along the walk. As they approached the end of the route, a team representative told Towns he still had to choose which jersey number he wanted.
A few hours later, Towns stood on a podium holding his new No. 32 jersey, next to Jones who will wear No. 1.