Teeing Off On Short Version Of ‘Timberwolves’

This falls more into the category of pet peeves than any official stylebook or protocol for nicknaming NBA team nicknames.

Let’s go step-by-step, then, as to why people who choose to call the Minnesota Timberwolves “T-Wolves” might as well be putting fingernails to blackboards.

When folks refer to the Portland NBA team in conversation in a shorthand manner, they say “Blazers,” right? Not “T-Blazers.”

Same thing when talk turns to that franchise Seattle used to have. They were the “Sonics,” not the “S-Sonics.”

So why in the name of Felton Spencer do people seem compelled to go all cutesy and clumsy – “T-Wolves” – when referring casually to the Minnesota Timberwolves?

It’s unnecessary. It sounds and reads vaguely patronizing and diminutive. It makes those who use it sound more like rubes than insiders. And it doesn’t even pass the brevity test, settling for two syllables where one would do.

Confusion isn’t a concern, since there is only one franchise across the four major North American sports leagues that could and ever would be called “Wolves.” This isn’t a “Sox” thing, where you need to specify outside the local markets whether you’re talking “BoSox” or “ChiSox.”

Yet what surely started as a headline-writer’s convenience has infiltrated to the team level, where the Minnesota marketing folks Tweet out hashtag references to “#Twolves.”

Might this be a concession to the Wolverhampton Wanderers FC over in England, who seem to have squatted on “#Wolves” in the Twittersphere? No, apparently, it’s a concession to common usage.

“It’s absolutely been an evolution,” said Ted Johnson, the Timberwolves’ chief marketing officer. “There definitely was an aversion here to ‘T-Wolves’ for many years. But now we actually embrace it. We’ve made it the official hashtag of the team.”

Noooooooo! Once again, values get surrendered, standards get relaxed and old-school traditions lose.

Then Johnson explained the asterisk of “T-Wolves.”

“We never use it in advertising, marketing or other brand-building,” he said. “But in social media, that’s like the water cooler come to life. That’s where people seem to like using ‘T-Wolves.’ Everywhere else, we’re the ‘Wolves’ or the ‘Timberwolves.’ ”

How ’bout we go with a thoroughly unscientific poll to settle this.


  1. BRETTUK says:

    How is this news?
    Hurry up and retire.

  2. Evan says:

    Who cares? The timberwolves should be happy anyone is talking about them at all!

  3. jole says:

    I’m from Arizona, where they call the diamondbacks the D-backs, and it doesn’t bother us.

    • Luke says:

      If that’s what local fans actually call the Diamondbacks, or how the team prefers to shorten its own name, then it’s fine.

      The point of this article is that neither the team nor most local fans call Minnesota’s NBA team the “T-Wolves”. The team and local fans call them “the Wolves” and that’s also what it says on the team’s ACTUAL UNIFORMS. National media and casual fans using a different shortened version of the nickname seems silly, given that context.

  4. ko0kie says:


  5. Luke says:

    I don’t know any serious basketball fans in the Twin Cities who ever call them anything but the “Wolves” if they’re using a shortened name. The team clearly uses that internally, too, and prefers it for the brand, since that’s what the home jerseys say now.

    I also can’t see how using “Wolves” could possibly be confusing, since as Ash actually says in the article, there aren’t ANY other “Wolves” in professional American sports, and I can’t think of any college teams, either (plenty of “Wolverines” and even “Lobos” but no other Wolves I can come up with off the top of my). so I’ll count for you, Mike; the total is “one”. As for differentiating the team from Wolverhampton for the twitter hashtag, I wish that the team hadn’t given in to the national/casual-fan (mis)usage, and just used something like #mnwolves.

  6. Pokie says:

    When you start sounding like Andy Rooney it is time to retire.

  7. RAPSFAN says:

    possibly the stupidest article I have ever read

  8. Fred Benz says:

    I have been going to T-Wolves games since I was ten, and they played at the ‘dome. I don’t recall when I (and everyone else I know) started using that nickname, but it is pretty standard. Josh, an old boss of mine used to call them the Puppies too, or even the T-Pups!

  9. joshtarp says:

    My personal favorite nickname is the Puppies. Probably started as a condescending nickname, but everyone here in Minneapolis knows who you’re talking about when you mention the Puppies or the Pups, and it has transformed into a term of endearment.

    • dattebayo says:

      You will have to start calling them Wolves again, because they seem to have grown up. They will make the playoffs this year and the future looks bright.

  10. Mike says:

    sounds like you are having a quiet week nothing better to complain about than something as silly as a teams nickname

  11. Dg3 says:

    “T-Wolves” actually sounds cool. Like J-will, C-Webb, J-Rich… I know those are player names, but there’s a certain flair to it that simple “wolves” doesn’t have. I dunno why it’s not embraced when it actually sounds way better than plain old, nothing fancy “wolves” – It gives Identity and distinction IMHO, what’s not to like?

  12. LT. DAn says:

    Aschy– You don’t say T-Wolves, but for the hashtag, it’s a must. It separates us from Wolverhampton fans and just general Canis Loopus aficionados on twitter. #Twolves

  13. Mike says:

    I don’t see what’s wrong with T-Wolves. Saying Did you see the Sox game last night or something along that lines is acceptable because how many Sox are there in sports? Two, and you can usually tell who the person is talking about, I don’t even want to waste my time trying to count all the Wolves in sports, so saying T-Wolves signifies you mean the Timberwolves.