An Open Letter to Rick Mahorn, the First Timberwolf
Post date: Feb 09, 2019 7:17:19 AM
Dear Mr. Mahorn,
You and I had a very unique encounter in the Fall of 1989. For me, it was once in a lifetime.
One Friday night I was attending my high school’s football game. A friend approached me and said that they had heard my name on KSTP news. I didn’t think much of it until I got home. My mom played me a message on the answering machine (yes, an answering machine with cassette tapes and all – remember, this was the late ‘80s). It turned out she had entered me in a contest to play in a basketball game against the first three Timberwolves: You; Ty Corbin; and Pooh Richardson. My name had been drawn as one of four lucky winners.
The next morning, I headed downtown to participate in the inaugural Timberwolves Hoopsfest. I didn’t have any Wolves gear, so I wore the only NBA shirt I had. Remember those cartoon-like shirts where the NBA stars had enlarged heads? I had the Michael Jordan version. I wore that. At that time, you couldn’t buy Timberwolves gear just anywhere, there was no Ebay or internet. We were reliant on our local retail store to have any Minnesota team gear, and Timberwolves gear just didn’t exist yet.
Also, there was some miscommunication in the message. It was a 3 on 3 game so the four winners thought they were supposed to bring friends. I brought two of my friends with me, as did the other winners. In other words, there was some depth on the bench. It was decided that the four winners would start and they would rotate everybody else in .
When I stepped onto the court as one of the starters, you immediately locked in on me and started playfully pushing me around. As we were matching up you mugged for the camera and said “I’ll take the kid with the Jordan shirt.” As you spoke, you shoved me while grabbing my shirt at the same time. It ripped up the side. The shirt was pretty threadbare. I wore it a LOT back then.
I was kind of pissed though. You had just ripped my favorite Jordan shirt!
The game went on and we went our separate ways. You ended up getting traded to Philadelphia and never played a game for the Timberwolves.
Fast forward 20 years later. One night I sat down to watch the ESPN 30 for 30: Bad Boys. I learned a few things while watching the documentary:
· You were involved in a giant brawl with Michael Jordan and the Bulls the season before.
· You were one of the main pieces in building that Piston's championship team.
· You were told about being left unprotected in the expansion draft DURING the championship parade.
I always thought that you you felt you were too good for Minnesota. Seeing how much it hurt you to be told you were going to have to start over with an expansion franchise after building what you did in Detroit - made me feel horrible for thinking what I did all those years. I was ashamed that I welcomed you to Minnesota by wearing the shirt of one of your hated rivals. Granted, I was 16 and had no idea, but looking back it was really stupid.
Fast forward to summer 2018. I started developing my own documentary about the disappointments of being a Minnesota sports fan. The film is about the bad things that have happened to Minnesota teams, but more importantly my personal experiences and involvement with those events.
I created a Twitter handle with the name of the movie and started trying to promote it. Obviously, I followed the Timberwolves Twitter account. One day they started a thread called “Timberwolves by the Numbers” where they went through each jersey number and all the players who wore it. When they got to #44, there was no mention of you. I questioning them but got no response.
How could they have forgotten the first Timberwolf? Most people think its Pooh, and no disrespect meant to him, but yours was the first name on the roster. Some argue that you never played a game for the Wolves. There are many examples of players being part of a team and never playing. The Vikings drafted Dimitrius Underwood. He lasted one day at training camp and yet most still consider him a Viking.
I’ve also heard people say, “By that logic, Ray Allen should be considered a Timberwolf.” Allen was a Timberwolf for a few hours and then traded on draft night. But you were drafted by the Wolves in June and were a part of the team for 5 months before being traded in October. In addition, Ray Allen never did any promotional events for the Wolves. You did. And I was there. I have it all documented. (My Mom recorded the whole thing on VHS)
This is why I want to Interview you. Not only because you and I have that unique connection, but also because I don’t think Minnesotans realize you were the “First Timberwolf.” Most of the current fanbase weren’t even alive when you were here and have no idea.
I also think Minnesotans should hear your side of the story and understand that it wasn’t that you hated Minnesota, it was about having to start over after fighting your way to the top (at least I hope it was).
Lastly, I want to personally apologize to you for welcoming you to Minnesota with that Jordan shirt.
In my mind you are the “First Timberwolf.” If you would ever let me interview you about the experience, I promise to wear a Rick Mahorn shirt this time.
Thank you for your time,
P.S. I want to make this clear. This is in no way meant to disrespect Pooh Richardson and Ty Corbin or take anything away from what they did as Timberwolves or their time in Minnesota. Having said that, it was a part of my life and to pretend this never happened is to ignore history.