National Basketball Association
How Timberwolves fans found an unlikely rallying cry: The $20 Naz Reid tattoo
National Basketball Association

How Timberwolves fans found an unlikely rallying cry: The $20 Naz Reid tattoo

Published May. 15, 2024 3:52 p.m. ET

At 82 years old, Geraldine Mannie did what she called the craziest thing of her life: She got her first tattoo.

But it wasn't of her two children. Or her four grandchildren. It was of Naz Reid, the Minnesota Timberwolves center, who comes off the bench.

It all started when Mannie's daughter, Shelly, saw a social media post from a local tattoo apprentice, JC Stroebel, who began offering $20 Naz Reid tattoos last week. Shelly wanted one, and jokingly asked her mother if she were interested, fully expecting to be rebuffed. 

"I said, 'Well, yeah,'" said Mannie, who didn't hesitate to get the 6-foot-10, 264-pounder's name inked onto her left arm Monday. "I didn't even have my hair combed. I had no makeup or nothing. I looked like hell."


As of Tuesday morning, Mannie was one of 136 people within just one week who had taken advantage of the $20 Naz Reid tattoo deal at Beloved Studios in Roseville, Minn. Stroebel said at least another 136 people are on a waitlist, and he anticipates he'll do at least 400 Reid tattoos, alongside another apprentice, Jesse George.

The tattoos are just the latest iteration of the frenzy surrounding Reid.

People around Minnesota greet each other by saying "Naz Reid" as a substitute for "Hello." Fans chant his name during games. One fan bought a shower curtain with Reid's face on it. A Jeopardy contestant revealed she named her cat after him.

The Timberwolves, who trail their second round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets, 3-2, are having their most successful season in two decades. And the people of Minnesota have found a hero in Reid, something Stroebel became acutely aware of last week. 

For Stroebel, this whole tattoo idea started after Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals, when the Timberwolves won their second straight game on the road against the defending champion Nuggets. He was overcome with excitement. So, he posted on X to his then-190 followers: "Will tattoo 'Naz Reid' on anyone for $20. I'm dead serious."

Geraldine Mannie, 82, shows off her $20 Naz Reid tattoo. "I never thought she'd go through with it," said her daughter Shelly. (Photo courtesy of Geraldine Mannie)

When he awoke the following morning, the post had taken on a life of its own. TV crews had reached out to him. His inbox was being flooded. He was just an apprentice who hadn't even asked the store owner's permission to run this deal.  He was stunned. 

Now, national media outlets have written about the frenzy he caused. SportsCenter's Instagram account even featured photos of people showing off their "Naz Reid" tattoos Tuesday, a post which was liked by Russell Westbrook, Danny Green and nearly 400,000 other people. 

The big question is ... why Reid? Why not Anthony Edwards, who is being compared to a young Michael Jordan? Or Rudy Gobert, who just won his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award?

"He just represents the underdog story," Stroebel said of Reid. "I think that story symbolizes so much more than basketball for people here in Minnesota."

For those who don't know Reid, here's some background.

He went undrafted out of LSU in 2019. He transformed his body. He clawed his way from the G league into becoming a versatile big who thrives in the NBA. Last summer, he turned down the potential for more money and playing time to re-sign with Minnesota for three years, $42 million. And this season, he helped the Timberwolves finish with the third-best record in the West (56-26), while winning the Sixth Man of the Year award. 

Around Minnesota, Reid is widely viewed as a paragon of hard work and loyalty. And apparently, people are champing at the bit to celebrate him.

Jackson Hurst, a 23-year-old student, was the first to respond to Stroebel's post saying he wanted the tattoo. He now has three of them: A heart celebrating his mother, a similar one dedicated to his father — and one of Reid.

"He's a hard player not to fall in love with," Hurst said. "It's hard not to root for him and his story."

As for the 30-year-old Ryan Turnquist, he knew he wanted his first tattoo to be "Naz Reid" after seeing Stroebel's post. But first, he needed permission from his wife. "She was initially like, 'No way. That can't be your first tattoo. Like, come on,'" he recalled.

But then he told her the NBA player's story. Turnquist saw himself in Reid, and felt most other Minneotans did, too. Eventually, his wife gave him the green light.

Turnquist said he doesn't have any regrets, but added he has steeled himself for any and all outcomes. 

"The first thought I had was like, what if he does something unsavory?" said Turnquist, who is a high school counselor. "It's permanent. I'm like, If he does, I'm going to be amongst 300 other people who are trying to get this thing removed. But life is short. Yes this is permanent, but it's not that serious. I don't take myself too seriously. Let's have fun with it, embrace the moment and embrace being a part of this community."

Of course, the Reid tattoo frenzy has gotten back to Reid himself. His reaction?

"It's crazy," Reid recently told reporters. "I love it. Keep going."

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The Timberwolves had fun with it too, inviting Stroebel and George to sit courtside during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. For the two diehard Timberwolves fans, it was a dream come true. They were even featured on the video board, alongside the words "Naz Reid Tattoo Guys.

"Mike Conley fell into our laps," George said. "We haven't showered since."

Regardless of what happens with the Timberwolves in these playoffs, Stroebel and George believe people are going to continue wanting the $20 Naz Reid tattoos because of what this moment has meant for the city.

They've tattooed people as young as 18, and as old as 82. They've given 15-20 people their first tattoos, as well as worked on people who are covered in ink.

It has been a bonding moment for a starved fanbase that hadn't seen their team win a playoff series in 20 years. 

But for Mannie, it was simpler. 

She has long been a Timberwolves devotee. She watches every game. And when asked why Reid is her favorite player, she pointed to his smile and palpable love of the game. 

Her daughter is still in disbelief. 

"I never thought she'd go through with it," Shelly said, laughing. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.


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