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.