Minneapolis/St. Paul – The Sports Business Journal honored Timberwolves and Lynx Owner Glen Taylor, Chief Executive Officer Ethan Casson, and Lynx forward Maya Moore among “The People Who Influenced Sports Business in 2020”. The annual list celebrates 79 individuals who, during an unprecedented year, set the standard as leaders in sports business.
“Many hardworking people are behind a special recognition like this,” said Taylor. “I’m thankful to be recognized by the Sports Business Journal and will continue to help advance the work we are doing in our communities every day.”
“I appreciate the Sports Business Journal recognizing the work our entire organization has done throughout this challenging year. We look forward to continuing to work with Mr. Taylor to build an organization that our state and fans can be proud of both on and off the court,” said Casson.
After the pandemic shut down the 2019-20 NBA season, Taylor pledged to donate up to $1 million in a relief fund for the part-time game day staff at Target Center. The fund provided financial assistance to hundreds of part-time employees who were adversely impacted by the loss of games at Target Center. In addition, the organization also led significant efforts, including ‘Pack for a Purpose’, a hunger-relief initiative to address food insecurity experienced during the pandemic. They also partnered with local professional sports teams and FOX Sports North to support two additional food relief efforts, ‘Feed the Cities’ and ‘Home Teams vs. Hunger.’
Under the direction of Taylor and Casson, the Timberwolves and Lynx poured resources into the community to champion positive social change by introducing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The organization entered a multi-year partnership with The Minneapolis Foundation to pursue justice, equity, and healing in the aftermath of the George Floyd tragedy. The partnership includes civic leadership duties with Timberwolves Head Coach Ryan Saunders and Lynx Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve to serve as leaders for the Fund for Safe Communities, a fund that will champion the prevention of further violence, address systemic inequities, reform the criminal justice system, and heal communities affected by this tragedy.
The Timberwolves and Lynx announced a partnership with RISE to create programming to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations which included internal perception surveys and workshops along with external programming such as Building Bridges Through Basketball and Champions of Change. RISE also facilitated RISE to Vote workshops for Timberwolves and Lynx players and staff to share education on the history of voting, why voting matters and empowered attendees to use their platforms to amplify that message.
Finally, the Timberwolves and Lynx launched Pack the Vote, an initiative to provide Twin Cities’ communities nonpartisan voter education, voter resources and assistance with digital and in-person voter registration options. Casson announced earlier in the year that Election Day will be an official company holiday. Casson has been the organization’s CEO since 2016.
Moore paused her WNBA career to focus her efforts on advocating for Jonathan Irons, who was serving a 50-year sentence at Missouri-based Jefferson City Correctional Center on charges of burglary and assault. Her persistence and quest for criminal justice reform culminated in the judge overturning Irons’ conviction.