Tuesday, February 24, 2015

MN Timberwolves Profile Fans by Race, Class

MN Timberwolves profile fans by race, class

By Rashard Zanders, Twin Cities -- A disturbing event happened last Friday at the Target Center towards the end of the MN Timberwolve's narrow victory over the Phoenix Suns that doesn't match the feel-good vibe the team is selling with the pending return of franchise builder Kevin Garnett.

I occasionally get home game tickets from a friend who is a season ticket holder. His work schedule prevents him from going to most of the games so he gives pairs of game tix away...often to me since I am the biggest hoops junkie in the coffeehouse we frequent.  Last Friday night I was too unenthused, even with the news of KG's return, to go to the game. So I gave both tickets to my friends E and his rabid KG fan bud, A.

Granted, these are not the best seats in the world...upper bowl...view semi obstructed by a guard rail...but hey, free is free and I enjoy an NBA experience now and then.

Given the fact that the Timberwolves rarely sell out it is common for fans at the game to bunch in, or upgrade, to better seats that sit empty, but are closer to the action.  The first time I did this I did so with the permission of a cool usher whom I had notified of my desire to upgrade seats. If the original ticket holders did eventually appear I would just go back to my assigned seat.
Of course, many upgrade without getting the nod from team reps.

Nonethess, despite KG's announced return, Friday's game was no sell-out. Thus E & A decided to upgrade to seats in the lower bowl to begin the game's second half.  And as casually as that, they were presently seated amidst the higher priced seats just a few rows from the action.

And then things got ugly.  I am paraphrasing as best as I can from the account E gave upon returning from the game:

E & A, both white, admittedly looked like yuppies at the game; collared shirts, slacks, dress shoes.  Seated behind them were two other white keen dressed in hoodies and jeans. In front of them was a Black couple..actually, they weren't there as a couple until about five minutes remained in the game.

According to E& A they took, and enjoyed the upgraded seats without hassle, despite not being in their assigned ones in the upper bowl.

The two white men in hoodies and the black couple in front were accosted by security and ushers two and three times respectively during the second half: each time showing their ticket stubs to confirm that they were indeed in the seats they paid for.

The stubs did not satisfy them.  Ushers and security returned again and again asking the same people for the same proof they had just minutes ago produced.  E and A noticed that off all the folks in their section, that they were the only ones out of place, and no one said a word to them.

When the ushers returned a third time to check the black couple's tickets...E & A could remain silent no more.  A decided to confront the usher and pointedly (literally) poked him in the chest several times, and informed him that they had been sitting in that section without tickets.  The conversation became more heated..Authority hates being called on their hypocrisy in public. Eventually, more security types descend on the section, and proceed to escort E and A, the couple, and the two men in hoodies out of Target Center.

Folks, this is the real Minneapolis; the true face of "Minnesota Nice" is best expressed "Minnesotan Ice".  As local media and civic leaders continue to spin an image of the Minneapolis as some kind of miracle, those in the know know it is a mirage, full of more racial disparities in  employment, health, economics, education than almost every other state.  In Minneapolis the miracles don't extend people of color, nor the poor -- mirages do however

Eventually, E & A sojourned to a nearby Scottish bar and shook it off over multiple brews and single-malt scotches, but the harm is done. KG or no KG, the Timberwolves organization has lost some fans.

Much is being written locally and nationally about the positive impact KG will bring to the 'wolves' locker room, full of young and athletic talent that could transform the long suffering franchise into a perennial championship contender in a few short years.

Hopefully, he can have an equally powerful impact on the subtly bigoted culture the team apparently wants to promote, and make it a franchise that welcomes all fans, regardless off  class or race.

Rashard Zanders is a freelance writer "living" and working in the Twin Cities.  He can be reached at 872.228.4179 or via email at

Rashard Zanders

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