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Souhan: In Wolves sale fight, who should fans be rooting for?

In what looked like a reprise of the final scene of "The Godfather," Glen and Becky Taylor sat courtside on Sunday night before the Timberwolves played Chicago, and all the old familiar faces lined up to pay their respects.

And, as in "The Godfather," the family's foes were nowhere to be found.

Glen Taylor bought the Timberwolves in 1994 to prevent the franchise from moving to New Orleans. Almost three years ago, Taylor agreed to sell the team to billionaire Marc Lore and former baseball star Alex Rodriguez.

Taylor announced Thursday that he intended to retain ownership of the team because, in his view, Lore and Rodriguez had not fulfilled their obligations in finalizing the sale.

Friday night, in Denver, the Wolves easily defeated the defending champion Nuggets to temporarily take over first place in the NBA's Western Conference.

Sunday, the Wolves played at home for the first time since Taylor released the statement, and Taylor, Lore and Rodriguez conducted interviews delineating their dispute.

In the hour before Sunday's tipoff, Taylor and his wife, Becky, took their customary seats next to the Timberwolves' bench. Longtime TV analyst Jim Petersen sat down and engaged in a long conversation, leaning close because of the music thumping in the arena.

A line of fans who often sit in the front row were next, coming over to hug both Taylors.

When the team took the court, coach Chris Finch embraced them, and was followed by many of the Wolves' players. Even Crunch, the team mascot, checked in.

Lore and Rodriguez, who have frequently sat courtside and mingled with fans at Wolves home games this season, were not in sight.

The two say they met their obligations and should be allowed to finalize their purchase. Taylor disagrees. The dispute promises to linger.

How should long-suffering, newly hopeful Timberwolves fans want to see this resolved?

In this corner, you have Taylor, a Minnesota-born billionaire who saved the franchise from moving. Taylor also purchased the Star Tribune at a time of economical peril for local newspapers, bolstering his reputation for safeguarding Minnesota institutions.

As Wolves owner, he has had one spectacular success — the 2003-2004 season, in which the team advanced to the Western Conference finals. His unwillingness to sign Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell following that season started a domino effect of bad seasons and decisions that culminated in an awful trade of Kevin Garnett.

Taylor and his chosen decision-makers have also made questionable hires, often favoring people with whom he was familiar, or failing to properly vet outside candidates.

In the other corner, you have Lore and Rodriguez, a wildly successful entrepreneur and a former baseball superstar who admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs and retained few allies from his baseball career.

Lore is unquestionably gifted when it comes to starting and building the value of companies. Rodriguez helped Lore navigate the strange world of sports business.

Both have raised eyebrows in the organization — Lore for acting like a naïve, wide-eyed fan around the team, Rodriguez for perceived arrogance.

In a strange and unintended way, the brief, seemingly compatible relationship between Taylor, Lore and Rodriguez might have yielded optimal results.

Taylor might never have conceived of hiring President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly away from the Denver Nuggets. Lore and Rodriguez pushed for the move, and the Wolves are paying Connelly $40 million over five years, a remarkable sum for a basketball executive.

Connelly made the bold trade for Rudy Gobert and executed other shrewd acquisitions that have made the Timberwolves one of the best and most promising teams in the NBA.

Now that Connelly and Finch are in place, Taylor might be the better owner going forward. He's obviously enjoying watching the team of his dreams from that courtside seat. He doesn't want the franchise to ever move and won't blackmail Minnesotans for a new arena.

Assuming Connelly would want to work for Taylor if Lore and Rodriguez fail in their bid to take over the team, Taylor could preside over a long run of success for the first time as an owner.

After the game on Sunday, the Taylors made their way toward the exit, and stopped to chat with Connelly. Even after a loss, they were all smiles.