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CEO: Timberwolves’ jersey ads will ‘change the way teams evaluate these types of deals’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves are getting into the jersey advertisement game with a Fitbit patch in a three-year deal.

The Timberwolves announced the marketing collaboration for the team’s first jersey patch on Tuesday. Fitbit also will be featured in the newly renovated Target Center, with the team exploring ways the wearable technology can help players, employees and fans track their health and fitness during practices, games and everyday activities.

Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson said the team sees the partnership as more than a small patch in the corner of newly designed jerseys unveiled later this summer. The Timberwolves were among four other teams bidding for Fitbit’s business.

“This is going to change the way teams evaluate these types of deals and relationships going forward,” Casson said. “This is different than anything I’ve seen before.”

The Wolves plan to use Fitbit’s technology throughout the organization, including logging the new concession offerings at Target Center into the Fitbit food section to help fans make healthier choices at the games. The wearables will be used with the Iowa Wolves, the Des Moines-based development league team recently purchased by the Timberwolves, as a test for performance enhancement that might be incorporated with the NBA team. Areas of interest include sleep, recovery from workouts and nutrition.

“They weren’t just looking at this as a jersey sponsorship,” Fitbit chief marketing officer Tim Rosa said. “They were looking at it as an opportunity to tell a bigger story around innovation and health and wellness.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau is on board, Casson said.

Jersey patches are just starting to take hold in the NBA. Boston, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Cleveland are among the teams to announce deals with various sponsors. The Wolves have been exploring potential deals for months.

They considered local companies and had conversations with several Chinese companies after John Jiang joined the team as the NBA’s first Chinese minority owner. In the end, they chose San Francisco-based Fitbit for its recognizable brand and the company’s ability to partner with the franchise on several health and wellness fronts.

“We think we’re going to evolve weekly with the types of things we’re thinking of doing and capable of doing,” Casson said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Rosa said Duluth, Minnesota, ranked first on the company’s “Fittest Cities” list in 2017 while Minneapolis ranked second in 2016. Fitbit also has business relationships with several prominent Minnesota companies that do business with the Wolves, including UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy and the Mayo Clinic, which partners with the Timberwolves on their practice facility.

The Iowa Wolves will wear a Fitbit jersey patch, and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx will use the wearable technology. The Lynx feature the Mayo Clinic and Verizon on the front of their jerseys.

“The ability to work with a team and work on specific things around sleep or activities in the offseason, it’s pretty exciting,” Rosa said. “It’s a mutual benefit that a team has access to all of this plyometric data. There’s a lot of room for improvement and understanding your body and how to enhance performance.”

 

NBA fines Kyrie Irving for profanity directed toward fan in Philly (VIDEO)

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We were waiting for this moment this weekend and now it’s here. Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for cursing at a fan in Philadelphia after the Celtics beat the 76ers.

This comes in the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins getting fined the same amount for getting into a similar altercation with a fan.

The NBA released the news Sunday in a statement issued through their PR department.

Via Twitter:

If you haven’t seen video of the incident, you can watch it below. Fair warning, there is obviously some very NSFW language in the media the ahead.

For what it’s worth, Irving said that he did not regret saying anything to the fan.

Via ESPN:

“At the end of the day, we’re human. It’s in heat of the moment and frustrations arise, we were at halftime, we were down by 4, in an environment, a season-opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

“It’s up to the league at this point. But, like I said, I’m going to take full responsibility for what I said. I don’t have any regrets for it.”

Boston’s next game is on Tuesday at home against New York.

Bobby Portis apologizes for punching Nikola Mirotic in the face (VIDEO)

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As if this season wasn’t going to be hard enough for the Chicago Bulls, it started off on the wrong foot when Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic got into a fight during practice. That fight resulted in a facial fracture for Mirotic, putting one of Chicago’s best players out for multiple weeks.

Portis addressed the issue this week by apologizing to fans, the team, and Mirotic. However, Portis said that he has not heard from Mirotic since the fight, and that he did not respond when he tried to call his teammate.

Video of Portis’ apology is interesting if only because it’s a bit hard to discern the level of sincerity.

Via Twitter:

Chicago is 0-2 on the season. Portis is in the middle of serving an 8 game suspension for the incident.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scores career-high 44, dedicates game to father

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — After scoring a career-high 44 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo wrote a note on the game ball.

“This is for daddy. We got a win tonight,” the 22-year-old Milwaukee Bucks player said, remembering his father, Charles, who died last month at age 54.

Antetokounmpo scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that put Milwaukee ahead 111-110 with 11 seconds to go.

After a timeout, Damian Lillard found Jusuf Nurkic running open down the lane, but Antetokounmpo blocked his shot at the basket, sending the 7-foot center crashing to the floor.

Antetokounmpo, starting his fifth NBA season, made 17 of 23 shots with eight rebounds and four assists as Milwaukee kept pace with a Portland team that had dominated its first two opponents. The Bucks star is averaging 38.3 points through three games, up from 22.9 last year, 16.9 in 2015-16 and 12.7 in 2014-15.

“Seventy-nine more. This is just the beginning,” he said, thinking about how many regular-season games remain.

After Nurkic was rejected at the basket, Khris Middleton was fouled and made both free throws.

“They committed two guys to Dame, so somebody was going to be open,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said, referring to Lillard. “Turned out to be Nurk but they made a really good defensive play.”

Lillard scored 26 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter. CJ McCollum also scored 26, and Nurkic had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Snell scored 17 points and Middleton added 16 for Milwaukee.

 

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant ejected at end of loss to Grizzlies

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Stephen Curry is going to get fined for this.

The former MVP was frustrated, his team losing and thinking he was fouled by Mike Conley as he attacked the rim late in the Warriors loss in Memphis Saturday night. Curry threw his mouthpiece at the referee, which deservedly got him ejected instantly.

Durant followed him to the locker room, making a gesture that will earn him a fine as well.

The Warriors are 1-2 to start the season and there are a lot of factors at play. The China trip does this to teams, and throw in three straight trips to the Finals on top of it and it has an impact. The team is a little banged up. However, the biggest issue is their defense is a mess right now.

The Warriors will straighten it out eventually, but the start of the season could be a rough one for them.