David Kahn has done nothing but screw up the Minnesota Timberwolves since being named General Manager in May 2009. A mere two years into the job and he’s already taken a repeated sledgehammer to a franchise, while stunting the growth of two talented ex-Orange stars (as The Fizz discussed in March). That’s not enough, though, since it appears Kahn also turns out to be huge asshole.
Kahn is responsible for the hiring of head coach Kurt Rambis, who has stripped Jonny Flynn of his dynamic playmaking creativity and perpetual smile and turned him into an emotionless robot going through the motions.
Keep in mind, Wes Johnson has largely been considered a rookie bust under the same offense – relegated to executing Rambis’ stagnant playbook. Instead of playing the finisher, he’s just another rook on the chess board. A franchise with lottery picks Wes, Jonny, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Ricky Rubio (still overseas) had the worst record in the NBA.
If you happened to be closely following the Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, I feel sorry for you. Either you’re a fan of a crappy team that was forced to pray for combinations of ping pong balls, or had nothing better to do. Both equally awful reasons to be watching.
Unsurprisingly, Kahn was in attendance (since the Wolves continue to be one of the league’s worst teams). The lottery has become routine for both Minnesota and its GM. The Wolves have been a participant in 14 of the franchise’s 22 years of existence. Kahn, who clearly refuses to settle for anything less than 100 percent, has yet to miss a lottery as Wolves GM.
Frustratingly for Minnesota it’s had a remarkable lack of lottery luck over the years. Including this year, the Wolves have drawn a higher pick than expected exactly zero times, typically moving below its deserved slot.
After the lottery on Tuesday, maybe the frustration got to Kahn. In yet another disappointing bounce of the ping pong balls, Minny’s league-worst record wasn’t enough to land the team the top overall draft pick. Instead, the prize went to a LeBron-less Cleveland franchise, with the T-Wolves picking up the consolation prize second pick.
It was a lucky break for the Cavaliers… or was it? Kahn to the media immediately after the lottery:
“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines. Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done.”
He now says he was joking, but it was classless either way. Number one, it’s idiotic to accuse David Stern of rigging things. This is a guy that enjoys fining coaches for coughing at press conferences – he’s the wrong person to go after.
As a GM in the NBA, it’s Kahn’s responsibility to represent his team and the league with outstanding professionalism. Whether you take his statements at face value or not, they come off as whiny and childish. Everyone knows that story lines make themselves in sports. The NBA doesn’t need to get involved in extracurricular “story creation.” Why would one of the most popular professional leagues in the country ever risk getting caught in that web?
The conspiracy theorizing makes Kahn seem like a Looney Tune, but far worse is his inclusion of Irene Pollin and Nick Gilbert. Nick, the son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, represented Cleveland at the draft lottery for a great cause. He has the rare genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis, and works to spread awareness of the disease. At the lottery, “his personality and story raise[d] thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes.”
Kahn didn’t seem to care too much about that.
“I told (Utah executive) Kevin (O’Connor): ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us, and I was right.”
Beyond seeing a 14-year-old with a rare disease as nothing more than an obstacle to the number-one pick, Kahn trivialized the death of the beloved Wizards owner Abe Pollin by insinuating that the NBA gave the top pick to Irene Pollin on purpose.
And what the hell does being Bar Mitzvahed have to do with this? I was Bar Mitzvahed, so I feel like a prime candidate to understand whatever attempt at a joke Kahn was making.
Just one of the many reasons why Kahn’s utterances on draft lottery night were tough to grasp, as the Timberwolves franchise continues to look like an awful destination for two of this century’s most talented Orange. If it is just terrible luck for Kahn and the Wolves, it’s hard to feel sorry for them.
Posted: Andrew Kanell