Recently, photos leaked online showing the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new Prince-inspired uniforms. This morning at Paisley Park, the team officially unveiled the City Edition jerseys. The uniforms include a sleek black jersey and shorts completed with purple lettering and accents, as well as various details that nod to the Minneapolis icon.
The uniforms were created through a collaboration between the Prince estate, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Nike. They are part of the City Edition series, which the NBA and Nike launched last year as a way to create annual special-edition uniforms that honor each team’s hometown and fans.
NEWS: In partnership with the Prince Estate, Timberwolves unveil Prince-inspired city edition uniforms pic.twitter.com/dT6ksF6TWq
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) November 1, 2018
“Today’s announcement is about much more than a jersey unveil,” reads the Timberwolves’ press statement announcing the jerseys. “It represents the launch of a platform that has been created after many hours of sustainable collaboration with the Prince Estate that will celebrate the legacy of the Minneapolis sound. Most elements of the Timberwolves experience will be impacted at moments throughout the season – including but not limited to game experience, digital content, digital platforms, events and promotions.”
The Timberwolves added some flair to the jersey announcement by creating a purple-hued promotional video packed with references to Prince’s career and legacy in Minneapolis.
The video opens with shots of Prince’s old stomping grounds, First Avenue. The camera pans in for a close-up of Prince’s gold star on the building’s exterior. The video then flashes to a shot of the Target Center, the Timberwolves’ home base just across the street from the hallowed music club.
The Timberwolves nod to Prince’s signature two-wheeled ride, showing player Karl Anthony Towns pulling up to Target Center on a replica of the Purple Rain motorcycle. The video builds to a climax as Towns flips a locker room light switch to unveil the Prince-inspired uniform. “Let’s Go Crazy” starts playing, and the Timberwolves show off some basketball tricks in their new threads.
The video also shows close-up shots of some of the uniforms’ details. The jerseys’ font pays tribute to the lettering on the album artwork for Purple Rain, and the curved, thin points at the ends of the jerseys’ letters and numbers nod to the styling of Prince’s Love Symbol. The right shoulder of the jersey features a pattern that references the studs that embellished the shoulder of Prince’s Purple Rain-era moto jackets. “MPLS” is written on the left leg of the shorts. There is also a small paisley icon hidden underneath a flap on the shorts.
Nike originally pitched the idea of Prince-inspired jerseys in 2016 after the star’s passing, for the Timberwolves’ 2018-18 season. The team declined, saying it was too soon, and instead decided to honor Prince with this year’s uniforms. (Other proposed ideas for this year’s City Edition uniforms, according to ESPN, included a tribute to Bob Dylan or the Mississippi River.)
Representatives of the Prince estate and members of Prince’s family expressed their pride in the partnership with the Timberwolves in the press release for the jerseys.
From a young age, Prince enjoyed basketball – as a player and a fan. From his days playing at Bryant Junior High and Central High in South Minneapolis, through countless pick-up games while on the road with bandmates around the world, he enjoyed the camaraderie and competition of the game. This partnership brings together the city of Minneapolis, and more broadly the state of Minnesota, in an exciting effort to uniquely honor Prince. We look forward to initiatives ahead – both on and off the court – that will extend from this campaign and echo throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. Thanks to the Timberwolves, Nike and the NBA.
The Timberwolves will debut the new uniforms on Nov. 16 in a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Target Center. The team will wear the uniforms eight times during the regular season, and the City Edition uniforms are the fifth of six uniforms that the Wolves will wear this season. City Edition merchandise will be available for purchase beginning Nov. 8.
Colleen Cowie runs the blog Pass The Mic.