Summer 2024

Mike Conley providing leadership for Timberwolves, leans on faith: 'Jesus means everything'

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley knows as well as anyone in the NBA how difficult it is to make a deep playoff run. The fourth overall pick in the 2007 draft won the first postseason series he played (2011) and advanced to the Western Conference Finals with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013.

Conley made the playoffs seven times over the next decade as a member of three different teams, but was victorious in only two first-round series. The 36-year-old has never been back to the conference finals.

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Typically soft spoken and inclined to lead by example, Conley decided ahead of Minnesota’s first-round series this year against the Phoenix Suns that he needed to say something. He wanted his younger teammates to understand the opportunity they had and how much it meant to him.

“It kind of just hit me. There’s so much I don’t want to regret in this situation,” he said, via The Athletic. “There have been plenty of times where I might not say something. I’ll be quiet about it and I do it by my work on the court, in practice and things like that.

“I was like, ‘Man, I’m not going to leave anything to chance right now.’ I’m not going to miss out on any opportunity to say what I feel.”

Minnesota went 0-3 against Phoenix in the regular season. The script completely flipped in the postseason as the No. 3-seeded Timberwolves swept the Suns, winning by an average of 15.0 points per game. Conley averaged 11.8 points, 6.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds. It was the first time in 20 years that Minnesota won a playoff series.

Conley has been a big piece of the Wolves since joining the team via trade from Utah at the trade deadline in 2023. In this 2023-24 season, Conley’s first full one in Minnesota, the Timberwolves posted the second-best record in franchise history (56-26). His steady play and strong leadership led Minnesota to sign him to a contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2025-26.

Long considered one of the classiest and most professional players in the NBA, Conley has received an NBA-record four Sportsmanship Awards, which honors a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court. He’s also been heavily involved in serving the communities where he has lived and played.

He explained back in 2013 that his inspiration for giving back is his faith in Christ.

“Jesus means the world,” said Conley, whose uncle is a pastor in Arkansas. “Jesus means everything. It’s what I live for. He is what I do my work for in the community, passing on as much as I can to anybody that needs it.”

Conley spent his first 12 seasons in Memphis and is the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in points, assists, steals and games played. He was traded to Utah in 2019 and made his only All-Star team the following season. In his introductory press conference with the Jazz, Conley talked about the important role faith plays in his life.

“Faith is big in my family and for me,” Conley said, via the Deseret News. “I was never able to get distracted with all the things that were going on last season strictly because of that foundation and being able to believe regardless and have faith regardless of what’s in front of me.”


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As he’s gone along in his career, all of the pressures and demands that come with being a professional athlete have only made Conley value his relationship with the Lord more.

“Life is much easier [with faith],” he said in the 2013 interview with The Alabama Baptist. “You cut out a lot of nonsense. There are obviously a lot of temptations in the NBA. Being on TV, running into a bunch of people, you are always vulnerable to a lot of things. Being able to block that out and concentrate on your faith and living a good life is important.”

The defending-champion and No. 2-seeded Denver Nuggets await the Timberwolves in the second round. The teams split their four meetings during the regular season. Game 1 is in Denver on Saturday (game time still to be determined).

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

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