Reusse: Longtime Wolves fans set standards for return

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 16, 2013 - 3:18 PM
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Ricky Rubio, left, and Greg Stiemsma sat on the bench in the final minutes of the Wolves’ 96-80 loss to Utah in the team’s final home game of the season.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Jim Stanton owns The Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake. This hasn’t been a grand spring for a businessman invested in a high-end daily fee golf course. Then again, he hasn’t been asked to write a check for Timberwolves playoff tickets.

This is the ninth year in a row there has been no need to do this.

Stanton was sitting with his friend, Jayne Ahrens, in second-row seats a half-hour before Monday night’s home finale. “I’ve had season tickets for 10-12 years, and we’ve been in these seats for the past five,” he said. “I’m giving them one more year, then I might be gone.”

What is it going to take for his renewal for the 2014-2015 season?

“They got to make it interesting — a winning year, a run at the playoffs,” he said.

And how can that change take place next winter?

“I don’t know if Kahn stays around,” he said. “And we’ll have to see what Love’s attitude is like.”

These were references to David Kahn, the much-maligned president for basketball operations, and Kevin Love, coming off a season of injury and numerous hints that he wants out of Minnesota.

A season that started with modest expectations was winding down again with nothing to show for it. The only certainty was an amazing run of injuries that reinforced the feeling that this is a star-crossed organization.

“I’m not sure if I believe that, but I’ll bet [owner] Glen Taylor does,” Stanton said.

Diane Pettit and Dave Bjerkness went to a Timberwolves game together and wound up getting married. They have held season tickets low in a corner of Target Center for 17 years.

What will it take to get a reward for this loyalty?

“I had great hopes for this season, until the attrition started with injuries,” Pettit said. “If we can stay healthy, and if our MVP, [coach] Rick Adelman, comes back, there’s a chance for the playoffs next season. It will be tough in the Western Conference, but we’ll have a chance.”

Pettit was asked if she thinks less of Love as a player than a year ago — after a season when his complaints about the organization came close to outnumbering his 18 games played.

“I don’t think less of him,” she said. “I think he should have gotten the max [maximum contract].”

Bjerkness agreed, adding, “Love was worth the max, but he also hasn’t been too good when it comes to public relations.”

Lew Seltz has a pair of seats in front of Pettit and Bjerkness. He bought season tickets for the first season in the Metrodome in 1989-90. And Lew can make a claim perhaps unmatched among the Timberwolves’ faithful:

“I’ve been here since Day One and my seats have never been empty for a game. I go to 38, 39 games a year, and if I’m not here, someone is in these seats.”

The Timberwolves introduced “Club 41” several years ago — to reward season-ticket holders who fill their seats every night — and Seltz is perfect. So are Pettit and Bjerkness, with their tickets in the low corner.

How is this team going to take you back to the playoffs, Lew?

“A change in general manager [Kahn] would help,” Seltz said. “We’ve gone from giving away our first-round draft choices previously, to gathering first-rounders and not getting nearly enough out of them.”

Seltz was asked the Love question: Has this lost season changed his opinion on the power forward?

“I think he’s a great player,” Lew said. “He said some things out of frustration. When it comes down to it, I think he will want to stay.”

He added this: “We also have to keep Pek [Nikola Pekovic]. It’s the first time we’ve had a true center. Ever.”

Terry Guy has been a season-ticket holder since 1986, when the expansion franchise was awarded and he sent in a deposit.

Playoffs? “Everyone has to come back next [season] — Pekovic, [Chase] Budinger, [Andrei] Kirilenko … and Adelman,” Guy said. “And Ricky [Rubio] has to learn how to shoot.”

Has Guy renewed his tickets?

“They called with the sales pitch and I said, ‘The less you talk to me, the more likely I’ll renew,’ ” he said. “They stopped calling and I renewed.”

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. preusse@startribune.com

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