To many of us Timberwolves rubes, last night’s comments from David Kahn, the general manager of the local NBA franchise, seemed like a joke. As he waited on stage with a 14-year-old kid — the son of the Cleveland Cavaliers owner — he said he thought there was no chance the Timberwolves would get the #1 pick in the NBA draft lottery. He was right — for the record, one of the few times he’s been correct in his Minnesota tenure. The Timberwolves got the #2 pick. The kid got the #1 pick.
“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. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.”
The “story line” he refers to is Cleveland getting the #1 pick months after LeBron James left the squad. The fix, he suggested, was in.
Was he joking? If he was, NBC Sports doesn’t get it…
And for the record, saying widows and sick children who had to undergo chemotherapy get all the luck is just pretty stupid.
For the record, the league has gone to great lengths over the years to make this process as transparent as possible. Every team — including the Timberwolves — has a representative in the room watching the Keno machine (or whatever they wish to call it) pull out ping-pong balls. There are 14 balls, leading to 1,001 number combinations and those are assigned to teams based on percentages (Kahn and Minnesota had a 25 percent chance of winning, so they had 250 number combinations).
The young man was on the stage with Kahn suffers from neurofibromatosis (NF), a nerve disorder causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time. That made Kahn’s quote all the more “winceable.”
Eric Freeman of YahooSports went beyond wincing, however…
Kahn didn’t explicitly say that he’s the victim of a conspiracy, but the “and I am just going to say habit” portion of his quote suggests that he’s dealing in euphemism to avoid a fine. Lottery conspiracy theories are nothing new — some people still believe that David Stern dipped an envelope in tartar sauce in 1985 to ensure that the Knicks would win the right to select Patrick Ewing. But general managers typically have the good sense to shut their mouths and not complain in public in a manner typically associated with annoying fans who hide behind a cloak of internet anonymity.
To make this story even sillier, Stern put in a good word with Wolves owner Glen Taylor to help his friend Kahn get the Wolves job in 2009. Why, exactly, would Stern change course and doom Kahn to the ignominy of picking second in the draft? Does he not want to make it appear like he plays favorites?
There are many bad general managers in the league, of which Kahn is arguably the worst on the merits, or lack thereof, of his personnel decisions. However, what makes him a truly odious figure is that he regularly acts with a level of arrogance that suggests he thinks he’s entitled to success. Being an NBA general manager is a tough job that requires patience, hard work, and an ability to roll with several cases of bad luck. Sadly, after two years on the job, Kahn has proven that he doesn’t have the temperament to succeed in the job. How much longer can Taylor and the Minnesota fanbase stand him?