Metrodome memories: The Wolves' first game


“Metrodome Memories” is a regular BringMeTheNews feature that will recount the goodbad and the ugly until the Dome sweet Dome is dismantled forever.

Welcome back. If you missed our installment Wednesday giving you a look at Randy Moss' first game as a Viking, it will surely bring you back to the glory days.

Speaking of glory days, this year marks the 25th anniversary of professional basketball returning to Minnesota, as the Timberwolves hit the quarter-century mark this season.

These days, they have a spick and span downtown arena located next to the new Twins stadium, with a spiffy new practice facility coming on Block E.

Life is good.

But at the start, things weren't always easy, as the Wolves began play in 1989 without their own arena with Target Center still under construction.

That meant Minnesota would play one season in the do-it-all facility that already housed a college and pro football team, a pro baseball team, and a multitude of other events throughout the year, our glorious Metrodome.

The Wolves opened their inaugural year with two road games on the west coast against the Dale Ellis-led Seattle SuperSonics, and Jerome Kersey's Portland Trail Blazers.

With the Wolves trotting out a lineup of Sidney Lowe, Tony Campbell, Tyrone Corbin, Tod Murphy, and Brad Lohaus, needless to say, both games were losses.

Fans didn't care, because on Nov. 8, 1989, professional basketball was back in Minnesota for the first time since the Lakers moved to Los Angeles.

The opponent that night? You couldn't ask for a better one, as Michael Jordan and the Bulls came to town to help pop the champagne on a new franchise and a year in the Dome.

35,427 filed in to watch MJ take on Minnesota, and while the footage is a tad grainy, shifty, and at times downright unwatchable, you can still make out what Jordan dropping 45 points on the Wolves looks like.

Behind Jordan's 45, the Bulls would win 96-84, as Campbell's 31 wasn't enough to lead Minnesota to victory. Here's another highlight video of the same game.

The 35,000-plus that watched MJ and the Wolves was just the beginning of big crowds for Minnesota, as they would bring the fourth-largest crowd in NBA history to the Metrodome April 17, 1990 against Denver.

The 49,551 that took in that contest helped Minnesota to the NBA single-season attendance record that still stands today, of 1,072, 572.

That record will likely never be broken considering arenas only hold 20,000 people in this modern day NBA, and while it may not have been the prettiest setup, it got the job done.

The night marked the opening of a five-game homestand that would see the Wolves get their first franchise victory two nights later against Charles Barkley and Philadelphia in overtime, with 38 from Campbell and 36 from Corbin pacing Minnesota.

The Wolves would win only 22 games that year and not make the playoffs until Kevin Garnett joined the team and led Minnesota to nine straight postseason appearances beginning in 1996-97.

The Metrodome wasn't home to those teams, but out of every success story is a humble beginning, and for this franchise, that beginning was the Dome.

If you're hungry like the Wolf (sorry) for more grainy bunker footage of the Wolves inaugural season in the Dome, here's their first game against the aforementioned Lakers.

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