Original Wolves Co-Owner Harvey Ratner Dead At 79

Harvey Ratner--the "Harv" in Harv and Marv--died early Friday after a yearlong struggle with cancer. Here's the CBS Sportsline link. I'm sure the Strib and PiPress will have more complete reports.

In retrospect, Mr. Ratner and his partner, Marv Wolfenson, didn't have the enormous wealth required to run a professional sports franchise. But I will always remember, and be grateful, for the fact that they brought NBA hoops back to Minneapolis, not only plunking down the $32 million franchise entry fee, but building the Target Center with their own money, a feat that is more than ironic in light of this week's passage of a Twins stadium bill for billionaire Carl Pohlad in the Minnesota House.

Of the duo, Harv was always the low-key one, the one who preferred to sit back quietly and watch while Marv paraded around as the more obvious face of the franchise. It was a great, enduring partnership, encompassing ownership not only of the Wolves, but of a string of Northwest Fitness health clubs and a number of apartment complexes up in Brooklyn Park and, I believe, Brooklyn Center.

Marv was the character, much more beloved now, in retrospect, but always a diehard basketball fan. Harv was far more mild-mannered but likewise loved hoops, and occasionally came back into the media area to chat up the writers. He also could be seen at his courtside seats on a fairly regular basis. I didn't know him well, spoke with him maybe a dozen times, but by his mien he just seemed like a mensch, somebody who never regarded himself as a self-important big shot.

My sympathies to his wife and four children.

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