Greg Gibson and his parents began attending Timberwolves games during the team’s first season, in the Metrodome.
“I was living and working in the Cities,” Gibson said. “My parents would come down from Cass Lake. My Dad and I sat out in right field, as far up in the bleachers as they had seats. My mom and brother sat behind the basket when we played the Celtics.”
The next season, the Wolves moved into the Target Center, and Gibson shared partial season tickets with some co-workers.
“The third year in Target Center, I think, my parents and I bought full season tickets in the old configuration, behind the baskets,” Gibson said. “Prices went up and we moved to section 104. We’ve been there for more than 20 years.”
Gibson, 66, is an assistant Hennepin County attorney. He will attend his first Timberwolves playoff game in 14 years Saturday. He will sit in his familiar seat, drink in the noise and nervousness of a big game, and ask himself: “Who are all these new people showing up?” he said, with a laugh.
The arrival of Tom Thibodeau, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford has made the Timberwolves relevant and frustrating. They are good enough to attract the casual fan, but not accomplished enough to make that fan happy.
Gibson is not a casual fan. For him, contentment is not tied to winning.
“For me, it’s about the family of people at Target Center — the staff, the relationships with Wolves people,” Gibson said. “The players come and go.
“It wasn’t about wins and losses for my parents. They wanted to see that the players were putting in an effort, and we wanted the games to be fun.”
Greg and his parents, Jack and Alyce, befriended the ushers and game operations workers. Marney Gellner of FSN once drove north to do a Valentine’s Day feature on Jack and Alyce. Gibson is one of the many die-hards who has befriended Wolves vice president of fan experience Jeff Munneke.
“We got to know the people around us,” Gibson said. “We’ve gone through it all in 104. Marriage and divorce, the births of children, life changes. At the last home game, a couple that used to sit behind us came over to say hello, and the wife said, ‘Dave knocked me up again, time for baby number three.’ ”
Jack died five years ago. Alyce is 89. She is leaning against attending the game Saturday, but Greg wouldn’t be surprised to see her change her mind.
“When they were still living in Cass Lake, they would drive to Bemidji, drop off the dog, drive down for the game, go to Champps and have dinner, head to the arena, watch the game, then stay over at my house,” Gibson said. “By 5 a.m. they were up and back on the road.
“The other night, for the playoff game, my Mom watched on TV and kept the book. She was always, in some ways, a bigger basketball fan than my Dad. He just liked the camaraderie.”
Asked about his favorite moment as a Wolves fan, Gibson chose not one game but the development of one player. He watched Kevin Garnett grow from a skinny project into a superstar, altering Alyce’s wardrobe.
“My Mom still dresses up on game days,” Gibson said. “She still wears her ‘Gibson’ jersey, one of those embroidered old warmups they had back in the day. Well, before KG was known as ‘The Big Ticket,’ he was ‘Da Kid.’ So we got her a jersey that said, ‘Da Mom.’ ”
The Wolves could be two losses away from their latest existential crisis, but there will be at least one fan at Target Center on Saturday who won’t be canceling his season tickets if he disagrees with Thibodeau’s rotation.
“I just love the NBA,” Gibson said. “I’m not a college basketball fan. For me and my family, playoffs or not, Target Center has always been the place to be.”
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MNSPN.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. firstname.lastname@example.org