Posted By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Minnesota Timberwolves community is extremely fortunate to have a large collection of dedicated, knowledgeable Wolves writers who cover the team year in and year out. Here at OTP, we are giving fans an opportunity to find out more about these talented individuals. Our sixth profile feature is Timberwolves Web Editor/Team Reporter Kyle Ratke, who is literally one of the coolest and funniest dudes I've ever met.
Name: Kyle Ratke
Affiliation: Minnesota Timberwolves
Web Address: www.Timberwolves.com
Kyle! How are you? Thanks for your time!
I’m doing well. Thanks for asking me to do this!
How long have you been covering the Wolves for Timberwolves.com?
I started as an intern in 2013, so I guess about three years. My goodness. Time flies.
What sparked your interest in writing and how did you manage to land a job with the Timberwolves organization?
Honestly, it was when I discovered that I was a horrible athlete, which probably shouldn’t have taken so long. I wrote in high school, college and was lucky enough to land an internship with USA Today after four years at Minnesota State University, Mankato (go Mavs!). After that, I was looking for a place where I could write about sports and as you know, those options are pretty limited. I went back to my hometown, living with my parents (I love you, but never again) and took some classes at St. Cloud State.
I applied for the Wolves internship during that time and was denied the first time around. But nine months later, Mark Remme gave me a call and told me they wanted me for the job. That was a pretty special day. Remme’s still a good friend of mine who is doing great work for the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Is it challenging to not always be able to express your opinions because you work directly for the team?
You know, sometimes, yeah. But I think I do a decent job of conveying my voice through my articles with some humor every once in a while. If the team loses by 20, I’ll be as honest as I can with why, but I’ll also try to feed you some positives. But working for the team obviously has tons of advantages with player access and tons of other things. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What will readers find by viewing your content?
Hopefully some insightful articles with humor when appropriate. We certainly never lack content during the regular season. We are posting 10-12 things per day during the season when you combine stories, galleries, videos, podcasts and press releases. I know people don’t always want to go to a team website for stories, but I’m trying to change that.
What keeps you driven and motivated to cover the team with excellence?
It’s my job and I take a great deal of honor in that, so that’s one. But a bigger part of that might be the fear of letting people down. We have so many people on the content side that work so incredibly hard. From my digital media crew (Sam, Kelly, Bridget, Jena and Bob) to the broadcast department to the public relations team. Everyone works so hard that it pushes you to be the absolute best.
The Wolves are one of the NBA’s best young squads. Why should fans be sure to follow the team next year?
If you follow basketball, you know why. Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be a top-10 player in the next two seasons. Andrew Wiggins is going to be a top-20 player. We don’t know what Zach LaVine’s ceiling is yet. All of these guys are getting better, plus you’re combining that with Tom Thibodeau, who is probably one of the best five coaches in the NBA. The dude is a basketball lifer. And then if you look at the Western Conference, I mean, there are a few teams that could definitely fall off. I’m looking at Portland, Dallas, Memphis and even Oklahoma City.
I won’t say the ‘P’ word, but it’s a definite possibility.
Do you have a favorite Wolves memory in the time you’ve been covering them?
Throughout the season(s), everything just kind of meshes together. KG’s first game was awesome. The last two All-Star games have been incredible to cover. Being in New York when the team drafted Towns was something I’ll never forget.
But my favorite memory might actually be a player. Corey Brewer was such a nice guy. I remember when the Wolves signed him and we went to the Minnesota State Fair for a little media tour. We chatted for an hour after about how glad he was to be back and he was asking a million questions about the city. After that, we had a pretty good relationship during his time here. I’ll always appreciate how he treated us.
What was the most enjoyable storyline in the past NBA season and why?
LeBron bringing a title to Cleveland was awesome to see. I think we continue to underrate how good he is, which is so incredibly stupid, but such is life.
Which are some of your favorite NBA and Wolves related writers you follow?
There are so many. I won’t even begin to name them all. Go on my Twitter and just look at who I’m following.
As far as Wolves writers are concerned, you should know that all of those guys are good dudes. Jon Krawczynski is one of the nicest human beings ever. Kent Youngblood from the Star Tribune is a great guy to talk to, even though he’s normally complaining about something.
The local blog scene is fantastic as well. My favorite is probably Punch-Drunk Wolves, but again, they are all great.
The writers that got me interested in the profession were Rick Reilly (before ESPN), Steve Rushin and Bill Simmons.
Current NBA writers that I dig are Zach Harper, Zach Lowe, Lee Jenkins and Jackie McMullan.
Rapid Fire (Flame Emojis)
Favorite sports movie? This might not be defined as a sports movie, but I’ve watched Gladiator at least 300 times in my life.
Favorite food? Anything pizza related.
Favorite weather/season? Summer. I love Minnesota and the people here. But I hate being cold so much.
Favorite TV show? Currently watching “The Night Of” on HBO and oh my goodness. John Turturro is incredible.
Hidden talent? I’m a decent dancer sometimes. Most of the times at weddings. And most of the time alcohol might play a role in that.
'95-'96 Bulls or '15-'16 Warriors? Bulls. I had a Toni Kukoc rookie card when I was young and I thought it was going to pay for my college. Didn’t happen.
Favorite NBA player of all-time? Steve Nash. Those Suns teams were so fun to watch.
Space Jam or Like Mike? Space Jam. And Blake Griffin should not be in the second one.
When do the Wolves finally end the NBA's longest playoff drought? Oh, the ‘P’ word! This season as a seven or eight seed.