MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Yes, the Timberwolves are off to a great start, but even during their down years, there’s a season ticket holder who has stood by the team the whole way through.
And Mitsuaki Ohno probably has the longest commute of anyone, traveling 6,000 miles from Tokyo every year, just to watch the Timberwolves.
“They are so kind to the fans and they play with heart,” he said. “It’s so exciting to watch the game.”
Ohno’s love for the Wolves began 25 years ago during Minnesota’s inaugural season. His father was working for IBM in Rochester and they started going to games.
“I had a great time staying here,” he said.
When they moved back to Japan a couple years later, Ohno began a long-distance relationship with the team, traveling from Tokyo to Target Center a couple times a year. During the Wolves playoff run 10 years ago, he bought season tickets and has kept them ever since.
“If you think about it, just the distance he’s traveling just to maintain his season ticket membership, it’s crazy,” said Jeff Munneke of the Minnesota Timberwolves. “We definitely try to give him his money’s worth.”
On this trip he spent more than $1,100 on airfare to catch three Wolves games. But what’s really special isn’t that Ohno comes here, it’s what he does with the tickets he can’t use.
“I donated all the tickets to the kids,” he said. “I donated all the tickets to that program.”
Ohno said he does that because people treated him so well while he was living here.
He usually makes it to about three or four games a year, and says he’ll be back for the playoffs.
When he’s at home in Japan, he follows the team on Twitter and watches the games on the Internet or Satellite TV.
He also tweets about the team in both Japanese and English.