Wolves fans in Italy? Yes, and their pack continues to grow.

Francesco Della Ferrera has never been to Minnesota, but he’s been cheering for the Italian team since the terrible 2009 season. Now his pack is growing.

MINNEAPOLIS — If you’re a Minnesota Timberwolves fan and think the 9:40 p.m. tip for Game 5 in Denver is late, imagine having to set your alarm for 4:40 a.m. to watch the crucial playoff game.

It’s just one hurdle to being a Timberwolves fan in Italy, but that hasn’t stopped a small community of dedicated fans from growing there.

Most Minnesotans wouldn’t understand a word of the podcast La Tana Dei Lupi, which translates to The Wolves Den in Italian, but the man who started it completely understands what it means to be a die-hard Minnesota sports fan .

“I feel like I’m in a love relationship with this team and I’ve been cheated so many times that I don’t want to get my hopes up too much,” Francesco Della Ferrera said.

Francesco is an English teacher in Italy who has never been to Minnesota, let alone seen the Timberwolves play in person, but as a longtime basketball fan who was looking for an NBA team to follow in 2009, he somehow landed on the Timberwolves.

“I saw the logo, it was amazing and so I said, ‘Alright, let’s try to follow this team,'” Francesco said. “And then it turned out they were the losingest team in NBA history. I didn’t know that at the time.”

Even though the team tied the franchise’s worst record in the 2009-2010 season, Francesco continued to run with his favorite team.

He decided to turn his passion into the first Italian-language podcast focused on the Timberwolves in 2020, and even though the team is much better, the initial feedback he received was mixed.

“’Oh, you have a podcast about wolves? How strange,’” Francesco recalls. “I also heard: ‘Hey, I’m a fan myself, I thought I was the only one in Italy and here you are.'”

Within a few years, he heard from other passionate Wolves fans and the podcast became a community of its own. Other fans help run an Instagram page, a YouTube channel, and even a Telegram community.

He says this season the community has continued to grow steadily. The Instagram page has more than 800 followers.

Francesco’s favorite subject? Two words…

“Naz Reid,” he said. “I know he’s one of the favorites in Minnesota, but I’m really happy to have seen him develop into the player he is today. He’s the 6th Man of the Year, so he’s definitely one of my favorite players on the team right now.”

And to any fellow Minnesota fans who might be concerned about the final two games of the playoffs and what Game 5 might bring, Francesco’s advice is to keep things in perspective.

“I think unexpected is the adjective for this season, and it’s really hard to remember to stay calm, the season isn’t over,” he said. “We can play a game against anyone in the NBA and still have a chance to win, which is not a phrase I’ve said often about the Wolves in general.”

Despite being a fan for 15 years, Francesco has never seen his favorite team play in person, something he hopes to change in future seasons.

“The valley I’m from is very similar in geography and climate to Minnesota, so I think I would feel at home,” he said. “So I know I have to go there sometime in the future.”

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