Blog Entry

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Posted on: May 18, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 6:43 pm

CHICAGO -- NBA officials are evaluating whether to fine Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn for comments suggesting Tuesday night's draft lottery was rigged, sources told

A decision on what to do with Kahn over his latest insensitive and inapropriate public remarks could be delayed because top league executives are traveling and scattered for multiple events, including the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting Wednesday in Chicago. Commissioner David Stern and general counsel Richard Buchanan have yet to confer with other top officials, and there is expected to be a difference of opinion on whether fining Kahn and the Timberwolves would simply draw more attention to the unfortunate comments.

Meanwhile, Kahn told Wednesday that his comments were meant as a joke, but reiterated that he believes in "the power of story."

The Timberwolves drew the No. 2 pick Tuesday night, losing out to the Cavaliers -- who were represented by owner Dan Gilbert's 14-year-old son, Nick, who suffers from a disease that causes tumors to grow throughout his body. Instead of being gracious, Kahn unleashed the following apparent attempt at humor and cleverness, which instead resonated with arrogance, poor taste, and what one league official called "bad karma."

"This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines," Kahn said. "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 (O'Connor, GM of the Jazz, who got the No. 3 pick): 'We're toast.' This is not happening for us and I was right."

If you like to hear and see stupid things first-hand, rather than just read the quotes, you can watch Kahn's buffoonery here.

Speaking Wednesday to at the Westin Hotel in Chicago, where league executives convened for the pre-draft camp and competition committee meeting, Kahn said his comments were made in jest and that he didn’t intend to imply that the lottery was rigged. But then he may have unintentionally dug a deeper hole when he reiterated the essence of his comment, saying he believes in “the power of story.”

“The first questions I was asked last night by the reporters were, did I feel that the Timberwolves were jinxed,” Kahn said. “You know, we have a poor lottery record. And I want to say for the record, I don’t believe in jinxes, curses, hocus pocus, and I don’t believe we’ve been harmed in any way. What I said last night, I do believe in the power of story. And I just felt it was a heck of a lot better story for a 14-year-old to beat out two middle-aged executives standing together on a stage on national TV, and that our league has had its own share of luck in being a part of those stories. That’s it. Anybody ascribing anything else to it is completely doing their own thing.”

Kahn pointed out that his comment Tuesday night “elicited laughter,” and said, “There was no follow-up question. Nobody said, ‘Do you understand what you just said?’ No, because everybody knew context. But I do understand, to your point, just reading it dry, that somebody could infer that. So lesson learned.”

Asked again Wednesday if he was simply reiterating his assertion that the lottery results were rigged to produce a better story, Kahn said, “Absolutely not. I’m just saying that, if you look at sports in general, typically fairy tale stories, Cinderella stories, whatever you want to say, those tend to dominate sports. I just knew when you’re standing there with a 14-year-old kid, logically the 14-year-old kid … it had nothing to do with being nefarious.”

Kahn said he hadn’t heard from the league about the comments, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if he received a fine.

“I’ve had money taken away from me before,” Kahn said. “It probably won’t be the last time. It is what it is.”

Whether Kahn’s comments warrant a fine or not, his latest in a pattern of missteps had rival executives shaking their heads in exasperation and privately mocking him Wednesday. In one fell swoop, Kahn offended the family of late owner Abe Pollin, reduced an heroic 14-year-old suffering from a horrific disease to a “storyline,” and insinuated that the primary means for bad NBA teams to improve – a process independently audited by an accounting firm – was fixed. And worse, upon reflection, Kahn didn’t seem to realize or care that he had done any of this.

“He oozes smug,” one rival team employee said.

Kahn and his organization were most recently fined $50,000 each last July for Kahn’s comments about Michael Beasley’s marijuana use – comments that were made soon after Kahn acquired Beasley in a trade with the Heat. This is not the kind of mistake that a seasoned, capable executive should make – especially one who is so close to Stern, who is mostly responsible for Kahn’s continued gainful employment in the NBA. Kahn’s basketball career began as an attorney at Proskauer Rose, the Manhattan law firm which handled, and continues to handle, NBA litigation.

Even now, with his organization hoping to secure a commitment from 2009 first-round pick Ricky Rubio to leave Spain and join the Timberwolves next season, Kahn’s latest actions have threatened what should be a positive, forward-looking time for a team that has endured years of hopeless ineptitude – some of it, Kahn’s own doing.

Overpaying for Darko Milicic and Nicola Pekovic while still having the lowest payroll in the NBA (when adjusted for Eddy Curry’s buyout) tells you all you need to know about Kahn’s basketball acumen. It’s truly amateur hour when the same GM who drafted two point guards on consecutive selections in 2009 now complains about being denied the No. 1 pick in the lottery – when the consensus top pick is, you guessed it, a point guard.

Had Minnesota gotten the No. 1 pick, Kahn would’ve had a controversy much bigger than this one on his hands – being forced to explain why he did or didn’t select Kyrie Irving first overall with Rubio, fellow 2009 lottery pick Jonny Flynn, and Luke Ridnour already Wolves property.

“But that’s presuming there would’ve been a controversy,” Kahn said. “I’m not in a position to presume that and I wouldn’t presume that if I were you. It hasn’t been discussed, internally or externally.”

In addition, the organization has needlessly dragged out the presumed firing of coach Kurt Rambis, whose representatives are meeting with Kahn in Chicago this week but still may not come away with a final answer on his future. Don’t cry for Rambis, who will see the more than $4 million remaining on his contract either way, but that’s not the point. The point is, Rambis deserves better. So do Wolves fans, and the rest of the NBA.
Hate Boston&LA
Since: May 4, 2011
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:27 pm
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Since: Jan 12, 2011
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:24 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Playoff NBA action is a joke. It's the most boring thing to watch on TV. I've never seen a sport so fixated on individuals. This summer, how many times did I have to hear about where LeIdiot was going. They even had a whole TV show dedicated to it! Then it was the Heat. How good are the Heat going to be? Could they go undefeated? Who cares? Kahn wasn't complaining because he wanted the #1 pick. He was complaining because his team had earned the #1 pick. How can a league control what teams they want to be better? Let's have a lottery!

Since: Dec 15, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:14 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

the comment should simply be why do we need a lottery system and why is it done behind closed doors.  If a team wants to tank the season so be it, they should pay the price at the box office.  Football, baseball and hockey don't have a problem with teams tanking the season to get an early pick so why does the nba.  Because the commish wants to control the league and which teams are successful.  big market vs small market.  the cap structure is set up to funnel the good players to the big markets, unlike the nfl you can pay a player what ever you want as long as your team in under the cap. 

NBA is garbage,  I only watch the playoffs and up until the celtics are knocked out.  I won't even be doing that next year or ever again.  Not just because the Celtics are done, its a terrible sport with a terrible commish.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:11 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Exactly right. May as well contract right now to the best 8 markets and save the BS. Small market teams or cities that aren't "sexy" are screwed.

Since: Sep 10, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:09 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Wow mstm....that was the most "explecit" comment I've seen you make. 

True though!

Why is the NBA the only major pro sport who has a lottery and just don't go based on records?  Too many times the teams that need the most help get the back seat to "luck" from some just below .500 teams that jumps like ten spots.

Since: Apr 3, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:07 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Every time a player, coach, team exec, team owner or fan doesn't get what they want they whine and whine.  Every word uttered is either a joke or misinterpreted.  Every adverse action is not the fault of person committing the act.  It's always someone elses fault.

Time to just shut up.  If you don't like the NBA then don't watch it and don't go see the games live.  There has never been any proof that there is a conspiracy.  There has just been a bunch of cry babies who didn't get the bounce of the ping pong ball they wanted. 

Although you can say isn't it ironic that the New York Knicks got Patrick Ewing, Cleveland got LeBron James and the Chicago Bulls got Derrick Rose unless you can prove that there are illegal or unethical activities going on please just shut up. 

David Stern took over for Larry O'Brien at its lowest point.  He took the popularity of the sport of pro-basketball to untold height's world wide.  Because of Stern and the direction he has navigated the NBA has more international players than any other sport bar soccer.  You don't do that by letting rogue owners and front office execs create a mis-perception of inpropriety and dishonesty.  Stern should fine Kahn.  His punishment should be that he has to either stay with the T-Wolves or go to the Clippers.

David Kahn's remarks are a joke.  By saying what he did you can say David Kahn is a joke.  Taking a step further, the T-Wolves organization is a joke.  They had the most tallented player of his generation and did nothing.  I am happy for Kevin Garnett that he has a ring.  Is it a conspiracy that an organization like the Boston Celtics always seem to get good players?  They produce good teams because of the quality of their organization.  Conversely there is the Los Angeles Clippers and the T-Wolves.  I am hopeful that Blake Griffin can get to play for a decent organization before his best years are behind him. 

As far as the refs go they are the best in pro sports.  There is a lot of physical play in the NBA.  The refs usually establish a pattern of what they will and won't allow.  The refs know the players well and the players know the refs well.  As fans we just have to live with it.   And yes, LeBron James takes more than 2 and a half steps at times as many others in the NBA do.  I once heard an NBA ref say that someone in an airport stopped him and asked why he didn't call walking on the great Michael Jordan more often.  The ref asked the gentleman would he rather watch MJ make spectacular plays or watch refs call walking 20 times a game.  The NBA is the greatest sports entertainment around.  I am transfixed on the Heat vs. Bulls and Mavs vs. Thunder series'.  Playoff NBA action is great!

Since: Feb 28, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:06 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Totally Stupid anyone would say he was wrong. Not only is Kahn right, but he has a valid point which comprimises the little integrity the NBA has left.

The NBA has just gotten worse and worse in every aspect, and in about 5 years any  star player the Cavs or any other mid-market team draft will just demand a trade to whatever high profile city they can anyways.

Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:54 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine


Since: Feb 29, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:53 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

The NBA is a business and businesses try to make money, the NBA not try to pitch a story to make money would they?  Having one company oversee the results and not the entire group of NBA fans allows for corruption and speculation.  The lottery should be the five worst teams in the NBA at most and everything should unfold in front of a national audience.  But then again the NBA has changed so many rules to make basketball not an interesting sport to watch so what would be any different, not a team game like college basketball.  Corruption is everywhere you look.

Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:43 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Ken Berger calls Kahn's comments, "buffoonery," but the true irony is that an overwhelming number of people agree with Kahn that the lottery is rigged.  Unortunately for the NBA, peception is reality.

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