Bill Beise attended his first Timberwolves game since 2009 on Wednesday night. The draw was the same as those hundreds of other times he walked through the doors at Target Center.
He loves to watch Kevin Garnett play basketball.
Few, if any, fans have watched more of Garnett's games in-person than Beise. His name might not ring a bell, but his persona should.
He was the superfan with courtside seats who always wore suits and crouched along the sideline with a rolled-up program in hand.
Yep, that guy, the man affectionately known as "Coach" to fans and Wolves players, especially Garnett, who occasionally referenced Beise in interviews.
Beise held season tickets for 20 seasons, beginning with the inaugural season in 1989. By his count, Beise missed only five to seven home games in that span, and has missed only one road playoff game in team history. In 2003, the Wolves even distributed a bobblehead depicting Beise's typical poise: crouched in a suit with program in right hand.
"His became one of the more popular [bobbleheads]," said Ryan Tanke, a Wolves senior vice president.
Then, he disappeared from games. Beise gave up his tickets less than two seasons after Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007.
Beise, 59, lists three reasons why: His youngest child began playing competitive basketball and he wanted to help coach and watch her games. As a long-time stock trader, the recession hit hard and made it infeasible for Beise and his brokerage firm to keep their five courtside seats.
And Garnett was gone.
"It just wasn't the same," Beise said.
Beise isn't sure who started calling him "Coach." Team officials don't know the origin either. Some speculate Garnett gave him the nickname.
Like many fans, Beise was incredibly superstitious. He bought a program from the same vendor every game. He held the rolled-up program in his right hand. He held a rock with the face a timber wolf painted on it in his left hand.
During games, Beise pounded his program on the floor and screamed encouragement or instruction to players. He told players if they had help on defense. He alerted players if the shot clock reached five seconds by yelling "red."
Beise stressed that his "coaching" wasn't an act or meant to get attention.
"If that place was empty and I was the only one there, I'm telling you nothing would be different," he said.
Close to players
Beise became a uniquely endearing character. The late Malik Sealy made a winning three-pointer at the buzzer against Indiana in 2000 in front of Beise's seats. In the wild celebration, Beise ended up in the pile of bodies, on top of Garnett and Sealy.
"I have a hard time remembering exactly what happened," he said. "I know I ran onto the court. It was a big win."
Wolves executive Jeff Munneke gives fans tours of Target Center before games. He often shows the group where Beise crouched on the sideline because the paint was chipped from him constantly banging his program.
"Sometimes people take photos of where that spot is," Munneke said.
Even former players got to know Beise. As a member of the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan once walked over to Beise and asked why he spends money on his seat if he never sits in it.
Wolves officials talk as much about Beise's generosity as his sideline presence. Tanke said Beise agreed to the bobblehead only if the team donated 100 percent of the proceeds to charity.
On nights when his firm didn't host clients, Beise would stand at the ticket office or visit the second deck of Target Center in search of fans to sit with him. His guests had to include at least one kid.
After Sealy's death in May 2000, Beise flew to New York to attend a memorial service and shared a private conversation with Garnett afterward. Beise placed a $2 bill under his seat before games after Sealy's death in honor of his uniform number.
"Bill was such a staple with the players and they loved him," Tanke said.
Beise said he didn't miss attending games as much as he initially thought he might. He loves getting to watch his daughter play basketball now and still watches Wolves games on TV when possible.
He was back in the house Wednesday with his lucky rock in hand.
"I am so excited to see Kevin play," Beise said. "The buzz is incredible. It means a lot to be back here."