Bill Kinderman arrived at Target Center two hours before the Timberwolves home opener Tuesday believing this season will be different than the previous 27.
The 61-year-old from Coon Rapids is one of the franchise’s first season-ticket holders, the “original 10,000” he called it. Many of those 10,000 might have given up believing in this team over nearly three decades of mostly bad basketball, but Kinderman finally senses real change after having been burned so many times before.
“The is actually the most high quality talent you've had in all the years because you have two No. 1 overall picks, two Rookies of the Year, and the guys around them [are talented],” Kinderman said. “The only thing they lack is experience.”
Kinderman knows not to get too excited about any new rebuilding movement. He still feels the pain from each previous letdown, most notably during the years of the “original Big 3” of Stephon Marbury, Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta.
“Marbury got greedy over the whole money thing and decided to go for a trade and then all the guys left. We could have built a really good team back then, but they didn’t stay together,” Kinderman remembered.
“I don’t think [this team] is going to be a letdown unless they start leaving. The talent is there. They’re going to make it. And the coaching is there.”
On Tuesday Corey Minnick of Rochester felt some of the same excitement he experienced in the early 2000s when he first became a season-ticket holder. Back then, the Wolves were a regular playoff team and in 2003-2004 played in the Western Conference Finals.
Since then, the Wolves have had only one winning season and been below .500 for the past 11 years.He was let down by the departure of Garnett and the rebuilding effort around Kevin Love, however, he is confident this team has turned the corner and on its way to making up for the past decade of really bad basketball.
“I’m a little disappointed with the first few games, but overall I think the young talent will start maturing and they’ll have a good year,” Minnick said. “I would compare them to Steph and KG when they started. A lot of talent, you just hope they can stay together more than just a couple years this time.
“It’s been a long time coming. You just hope they can break the streak this year. It’s just been disappointment and disappointment of not making the playoffs.”
Erik Barclay from Buffalo, Minn., is hopeful the Wolves’ youthfulness and energy will be the recipe to turn the corner. That combination, though, has let Barclay down before.
“The Kevin Garnet era," he said. "A lot of energy then, and there were some youthful guys then, and they just didn’t pan out. Just disappointing.”
Ben Forman from St. Paul said he was never burned by the Wolves because the team never gave him a reason to set high expectations since the final years of the Garnett era. But now, Forman said “Finally, it looks like they actually have a good enough group here where they’re past the rebuilding stage.”