The Story Behind Hundreds of Timberwolves Fans Getting $20 Naz Reid Tattoos

Two words. Naz Reid.
IMAGN

On a national scale, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ dominance in the postseason so far has been largely about Anthony Edwards’s rise to superstardom. The Michael Jordan comparisons are heard almost daily on morning talk shows. He’s made the leap.

It’s also about Karl-Anthony Towns, the loyal former top pick who stuck with the franchise through tumultuous times and countless personnel changes. Or Rudy Gobert, who silenced critics calling the Timberwolves and Utah Jazz's blockbuster in July 2022 the worst trade of all-time by anchoring the NBA’s top defense this season.

But in the Twin Cities, it’s all about Naz Reid, the former LSU center who quickly rose from undrafted afterthought to Sixth Man of the Year. For Minnesota fans, Naz Reid represents something different—so much so that fans are lining up around the block to get his name tattooed on themselves.

JC Stroebel and Jesse George are two lifelong Timberwolves fans who recently bet on themselves by making a career pivot into the world of tattoo artistry.

They work together at Beloved Studios, a tattoo shop in Roseville, Minn., about 10 miles northeast of Target Center—which Reid and Minnesota call home. Any customer who rolls into Beloved Studios likely will be met with chatter of last night’s Timberwolves game or the latest outrageous post by the now-banned “Timberwolves Brasil” account on X, formerly Twitter. 

As they work toward finishing their apprenticeships, they aimed to make their tattoo store a part of Timberwolves culture, a place where fans could get team-related ink and perhaps one day would welcome players into the building.

“We always thought it would need to be a calculated, well thought-out thing,” Stroebel said to Sports Illustrated in an interview Thursday night. “But then the Wolves absolutely demolished Denver in Game 2, and in the heat of the moment and the hype of what was going on, I just very willy-nilly tweeted out, ‘I will tattoo Naz Reid on anyone for $20.’ Thinking, dude, who’s actually going to get a Naz Reid tattoo?”

The answer? Hundreds of fans.

Posted in the aftermath of Minnesota’s 106–80 win over the defending champion Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal playoff series on Monday, Stroebel’s tweet went viral almost immediately. He received so much interest that he made a new email, nazreidtattoos@gmail.com, just to handle all the requests coming in. 

On Thursday, Stroebel and George tattooed 10 “Naz Reid” tattoos on Timberwolves fans who walked in. As of Thursday night, there were 65 appointments lined up for Friday and another 60 for Saturday. And that’s not counting those who plan to walk in over the next few days.

The tattoo is simple. It consists of two words, is sometimes joined by a period—”Naz Reid.”—and only takes Stroebel and George about seven minutes to ink it on a customer’s body. So far, they’ve tattooed arms, legs and torsos. And yes, there are a few requests lingering out there for a “Naz Reid” butt-cheek tattoo.

Timberwolves fan Jackson Hurst was the first customer in line to get his tattoo on Wednesday.

"I love the tattoo," Hurst told Sports Illustrated over a direct message. "It turned out great, and has brought me nothing but joy since getting it!"

So, why Naz Reid?

Reid grew up playing basketball in New Jersey as a member of the social media sensation “Jelly Fam,” and was a five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American in high school. After one season at LSU, Reid declared for the 2019 NBA draft but wasn’t one of the 60 players to hear their names called that night. He signed with Minnesota in July 2019 as an undrafted free agent and inked a multiyear two-way contract after starring in summer league.

It didn’t take long for Reid to become a fan favorite among the Timberwolves faithful.

As he navigated the early days of his professional career, making trips from Wells Fargo Arena—home of the G League Iowa Wolves—to Target Center and back again, he began to shine on the court. By his second season, he forced his way into Minnesota's rotation.

Even in those early days, the Timberwolves’ official social media accounts would post a picture or highlight of Reid with the caption simply reading, “Naz Reid.” Fans eventually went on to respond to each post by commenting those same two words.

And a movement was born.

Soon after, the Naz Reid craze in the Twin Cities went from online to real life. Parkway Pizza in Minneapolis encouraged noisy traffic outside its doors by displaying a “Honk if you love Naz Reid” sign at the entrance. While appearing on Jeopardy! as a contestant last summer, Timberwolves fan Anji Nyquist went viral for saying she named her cat “NAZREID (all caps).” Minnesota handed out “Naz Reid” beach towels to 15,000 fans as a giveaway for a regular-season game in March. One “Naz Reid” beach towel made an appearance in the crowd at WWE’s Wrestlemania 40 in Philadelphia last month.

The 24-year-old center has become a rallying cry for a franchise that has been the butt of NBA jokes for most of its existence. Among the many blunders in team history, the Timberwolves' fan base could only watch as the Kevin Garnett era was stunted by the Joe Smith salary-cap scandal in 2000. Minnesota infamously passed on drafting Steph Curry—twice—in the 2009 NBA draft. In 2021, the Timberwolves dropped their all-time winning percentage to .393, the worst among all major men’s American professional sports teams.

Reid, a once-promising high school prospect, was doubted coming out of college. His phone didn’t ring on draft night. He scrapped for minutes as a rookie and worked his way up from roster afterthought to cult hero to Sixth Man of the Year.

Now, Reid and Minnesota are two victories away from winning the fourth playoff series in franchise history and punching their second ticket to the Western Conference finals.

“I think he just represents the fan base,” George said of Reid. “He’s like the underdog that represents all Timberwolves fans. And his journey, from being undrafted to now being one of the best players in the league—Sixth Man of the Year—that kind of represents us.”

What tattoo would Stroebel and George give Reid if he walked into their doors at Beloved Studios?

“Whatever he wants,” they replied.

Two words. Naz Reid.


Published
Tom Dierberger

TOM DIERBERGER

Tom Dierberger is a writer and editor for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Tom joined SI in 2023 after stints at FOX Sports, Bally Sports, and NBC Sports. In his spare time, Tom can be seen throwing out his arm while playing fetch with his dog, Walter B. Boy.