Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Memphis' Joerger: Bringing it all back home tonight vs. Wolves

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves pre-game, Wolves news Updated: January 31, 2014 - 12:02 PM

The first time Memphis coach Dave Joerger remembers attending a game at Target Center, Kenny Smith was playing point guard for Houston.

Yes, it was that long ago.

Tonight, it's all new again for the guy who grew up not all that far from Target Center, out in Staples, Minn.

It's the first time he'll come into Target Center as a NBA head coach with a Grizzlies team that has won nine of its last 10 games now that center Marc Gasol is back healthy.

Joerger knocked around basketball's minor leagues -- from Fargo to Sioux Falls to Bismarck -- for years, washing uniforms by day and coaching by night before making it to the NBA as a Memphis assistant in 2007.

Last summer, he was promoted to head coach after the team and Lionel Hollins parted ways.

"It's very exciting, very humbling," he said after shootaround this morning. "Certainly a dream come true to be able to coach here. I remember coming to games here, just the biggest deal in the world."

He is bringing his high-school coach here to the game, just like his coach brought him here to see the Wolves and Kenny Smith's Rockets.

"They messed up our tickets and we sat in a suite that night," he said. "A little high-school team thinking, `Holy cow, we're in a suite. What's going on?' "

He has lots of family and friends coming to tonight's game.

"Lots of requests," he said. "I gave everybody my brother's phone number and let them call him. It's exciting. A lot of people had a part in this. So many people had an influence on me growing up. So many people in this state and in my hometown that mentored and helped me. So it's not me out there. It's all of Staples and a lot of Minnesota. It's really cool."

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