A new marketing promotion from the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office will give fans the opportunity to high-five their favorite players as they enter and exit the court through a fan tunnel. Fans won’t get to high-five Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio or Robbie Hummel, though. Instead, they will pay $75 for upper level seats and a chance to slap hands with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Miami Heat. This promotion will likely sell a lot of tickets and at an increased price, but it seems like a bit of an insult to the Timberwolves’ players and their fans.
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA right now, and he is extremely fun to watch, but he is also hard to like. It’s easy to hate James when he’s playing against your team — the Heat rarely lose, and it’s even more rare to see James have a bad game. James is also hateable for ditching his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to chase championships in Miami and for the droves of bandwagon fans across the world whose new favorite team is the Miami Heat.
This promotion directly markets to those bandwagon fans. Basketball is by no means the most popular sport in Minnesota and the Timberwolves are often overshadowed by the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Wild as far as fan support goes. As such, it’s a given that many fans in Heat jerseys will be at the Target Center anytime the Heat come to town, which is the case at any small market arena. But to actively cater to these fans and to encourage their attendance with special promotions detracts from the Wolves’ home-court advantage.
The Wolves are a good team this year, and they have a serious chance to beat the Heat. The Heat are still the best team in basketball, though, so the Wolves will need all the help they can get. This move may help sell tickets, but it also hurts the Wolves chances for a win, which should be first priority. Catering to bandwagon Heat fans is disrespectful to the home team and their awesome fans, and this promotion should not happen.