Soon-to-be Timberwolves majority owner and baseball legend Alex Rodriguez is taking the right steps to develop a winning culture in the Twin Cities.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the cusp of their most successful era in nearly two decades. Fresh off back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 2004, the Wolves are loaded with talent and poised to achieve even more in year two of the Rudy Gobert Experiment.
The meteoric rise of Anthony Edwards has clearly been a big part of Minnesota’s recent ascent, and head coach Chris Finch’s robust offensive approach gives this group a high ceiling. But an often undersold caveat to success in team sports is ownership.
Wolves fans are well aware that the franchise has been owned by business magnate and former Minnesota politician Glen Taylor since 1994. It wasn’t until 2021 that ownership of the team began to change.
On April 10, 2021, former Major League Baseball legend Alex Rodriguez and his business partner Marc Lore reached an agreement with Taylor to purchase the Timberwolves for $1.5 billion. The purchase was to take place in stages, with Rodriguez and Lore making joint payments over three years to own the team.
In 2024, the two entrepreneurs will make their final payment and will officially be the majority owners of the franchise. But the duo has already been an integral part of the Timberwolves’ operations for the past few years, especially Rodriguez.
Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, Marc Lore
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As a former professional athlete who grew up a huge basketball fan, Rodriguez seemed to fit in well with a team’s ownership group from day one. Unlike most owners, A-Rod began his tenure with a thorough and nuanced understanding of how to set athletes up for success. Even before he agreed to buy the team, he knew what facilities, training staff and intangibles needed to be in place for the players to thrive.
His advance knowledge from an athlete’s point of view gave him an obvious advantage from day one. However, since Rodriguez’s involvement in professional sports up until this point had primarily come on the baseball side of things, it still made sense for him to have a few years to acclimate to the world of professional basketball.
Fortunately, A-Rod’s adjustment to the NBA landscape over the past two years of minority ownership has been tremendous. He has shown his commitment to the organization by cultivating relationships with players and coaches and by being a constant presence around all team activities.
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A wholehearted commitment to the Timberwolves
Take Anthony Edwards for example. Back in April 2021, Edwards was asked in a postgame press conference about Rodriguez and what he thought of the team’s new owner. Edwards answered honestly that he did not know who Rodriguez was.
Fast forward to the present and the two seem to have formed a growing bond. In May 2023, A-Rod and Edwards sat courtside in Miami for a Heat playoff game. Rodriguez posted a photo of the two on Instagram with a light-hearted comment about their friendship as the caption.
These types of interactions have become the norm in the early stages of A-Rod’s ownership. In a short time, Rodriguez has become one of the more personable and visible team owners across the entire NBA.
Not only has Alex Rodriguez made an effort to develop relationships with those in the Timberwolves organization, but he has also been conscious of learning from other successful figures around the league. On his travels to support the Wolves at road games, he has done his best to soak up knowledge from his more experienced peers.
Earlier Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson served as President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers from 2017 to 2019 and continues to serve as an ambassador for the NBA. Rodriguez has credited the Magic with inspiring his entrepreneurial journey, and the two have routinely been spotted chatting when the Timberwolves and Lakers play.
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Cuban
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Learning from other prominent sports companies
Among the most recognizable and respected figures in professional sports is legendary trainer Pat Riley, who also serves as a source of inspiration for A-Rod. The Miami Heat president for nearly 30 years authored “The Winner Within,” a book that Rodriguez has stated is one of his all-time favorites.
One of the core concepts in Riley’s book is mastering the art of being a team player, whether on the field or in business. It’s safe to say Rodriguez is taking Riley’s lessons to heart as the Timberwolves’ owner. His intentionality to learn from others speaks volumes and he clearly takes every opportunity to improve himself.
We should also recognize that Glen Taylor’s involvement in the ownership transition process has been a big part of making the start of Rodriguez’s tenure a success. If Taylor was convinced he wanted to sell the team in 2021, he could have done so immediately. Instead, he has taken the time to mentor A-Rod and ensure he is set up for success as much as possible.
In the end, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Alex Rodriguez could end up as a perfect pair. His background as a professional athlete and his mentality as a total team player give him the potential to help accomplish something very special in the Twin Cities. With A-Rod part of the team at the helm, the Timberwolves’ future is brighter than ever.