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.

Marvin and Me: Longtime Wolves employee's unexpected friendship with original owner

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves news Updated: December 22, 2013 - 12:39 PM

If you've followed the Wolves for any amount of time, you might know Clayton Wilson's face.

He has been the team's equipment manager for...well, forever it seems, washing uniforms, ordering shoes for players and serving at the perfect locker-room foil for big Nikola Pekovic's own peculiar brand of humor.

But you've probably never heard him or seen him quoted anywhere because the guy insists on a keeping a low profile.

Until now.

I asked him today about his unusual relationship with original Wolves owner Marv Wolfenson, who died today at age 87.

Clayton -- a former Twin clubhouse attendant who also was pals with Kirby Puckett -- asked if I could give him questions in writing so he could think about the answers.

Here's what I got in reply. I'm leaving it unedited, in just its original heartfelt form even though he reminds me, "There's a reason I wash jocks for a living."

Here are his remembrances to the man who with partner Harvey Ratner brought the NBA back to Minnesota long after the Lakers left town...

Marvin didn't sleep good at night. He would always fall asleep during the day. He spent a big chunk of his day napping in hotel lobbies worried he was going to be late for the game.
He would always take me to movies on the road. He would buy the tickets and I would buy the popcorn. Pulp Fiction just came out. We took a cab in Detroit and went to see it. Five minutes into it he is snoring loudly, slept through the entire movie. I woke him up at the end and he asked if I wanted to sneak into another movie, Die Hard or something like that.

He slept through that movie, too. He complained that they were boring movies the whole way home.

Every city on the road he would tell me to find a Cheesecake Factory and invite the whole traveling party. There would always to 8 to 10 people. He would order 25 appetizers and after none of us could move from being so full, he would ask if anyone wanted to share a salad. He picked up every single bill.

Marvin would have me order dozens of NBA hats and tee shirts. He would have me put them in the trunk of his car. Every two weeks or so he would order more. I finally asked him what he did with them. He said he would go into the neighborhoods where people didn't have much money and pass them out to kids and people. He was a very giving person.

When the Timberwolves played at Metrodome the first year, Kirby Puckett had court side tickets. When they moved to Target Center, they had to move Kirby's seats because of the different configuration. Kirby wrote in his book that he would never step foot in Target Center.
After a couple years, Marvin asked me to bridge the gap. Kirby loved basketball so it wasn't too hard. Marvin gave him the rights to two of his seats right next to the Timberwolves bench. They would sit next to each other and Kirby would go on to be a mentor for Kevin Garnett.

Marv and Harv grew up in Minneapolis. They would bring their childhood friends on most of the trips. They all thought they were the funniest people on the face of the earth. One would tell a story and one would argue that it wasn't the way it went or one would tell a joke and the other would say that wasn't funny, this joke is funny. They would argue and laugh and enjoy each other for hours on end like they were still 12 years old.
I have been blessed to have people in my life that I had instant connections with that last for some reason. Marvin and I were like that for some reason. A snot nosed kid just out of college making $12,000 a year and a multimillionaire that have seen and done everything. We just clicked.

He would jump in the cab with me to go to every single road game an hour or so before the team bus. He would remind me 10-15 times every cab ride that he needed to get a pass right away so they knew who he was and didn't try to kick him out. Marv would head straight to the court and I would go to the locker room to set up the jerseys.  Before I could get the last bag into the locker room, Marv would have sent someone to see if I had gotten his pass yet. Not the most patient of people. He always wanted things done his way. He worked hard for his money.

He was always so proud of Target Center. Even this summer when he came to visit. He told me in every other arena we went to that his only regret was he should have made the lower bowl bigger and upper deck smaller. Everyone wants to be in the lower level and the upper level costs more to build. I heard it 150 times.
He would come to me at the beginning of each year and say, I need to get a ball kid job for...daughters friends kids (6 different kids), housekeeper grandson, all his grand kids at some point, etc
Marvin was stubborn and impatient but had a heart of gold and a great work ethic.

And if you missed the obituary for Sunday's paper, you can find it here.


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St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 4th Qtr 0:16
Detroit 106
Utah 91 4th Qtr 4:21
Miami 74
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 71 3rd Qtr 1:48
Toronto 74
Memphis 52 3rd Qtr
San Antonio 45
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Houston 9:30 PM
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 2 3rd Prd
Minnesota 1
Dallas 9:00 PM
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 63 1st OT 0:45
UNC-Wilmington 69
TX A&M-CC 57 2nd Half 3:30
Denver 66
Ark-Pine Bluff 45 2nd Half 1:50
Houston 42
UT Martin 52 2nd Half 2:25
Illinois State 59
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 41 2nd Half 3:46
Loyola-Chicago 74
USC Upstate 64 2nd Half 3:45
Memphis 76
Alcorn State 46 2nd Half 4:05
Murray State 85
Central Mich 78 2nd Half 1:58
Northwestern 61
Georgia State 50 2nd Half 1:57
Old Dominion 48
TX-Pan American 55 2nd Half 6:35
Saint Louis 59
Ill-Chicago 41 2nd Half 6:16
SMU 58
Texas State 50 2nd Half 3:00
Stephen F Austin 60
SC State 33 2nd Half 3:38
Texas Tech 74
Missouri State 68 2nd Half 0:31
Tulsa 72
Chicago State 58 2nd Half 2:46
Western Ky 68
Morehead State 45 2nd Half 3:55
Green Bay 61
Northern Colorado 71 2nd Half 3:01
Nebraska Omaha 79
Winthrop 24 1st Half 4:23
Auburn 29
New Mexico St 24 2nd Half
Baylor 32
San Diego St 20 1st Half 1:13
Cincinnati 20
Eastern Mich 16 1st Half 2:10
Michigan State 32
Loyola Marymount 31 2nd Half
Stanford 27
Incarnate Word 39 1st Half 0:25
Grand Canyon 50
Northeastern 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Central Arkansas 9:00 PM
New Mexico
Howard 9:00 PM
Portland 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Grambling St 10:00 PM
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San Diego St
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Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Oakland 54 2nd Half 3:51
TX A&M-CC 50
Eastern Kentucky 53 2nd Half 2:38
Alabama A&M 48
SIU-Edwardsville 43 2nd Half 5:00
Northern Ill 60
Portland 30 2nd Half
Eastern Washington 25
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