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 CBSSports.com.
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 CBSSports.com 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 CBSSports.com 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.
Posted on: May 18, 2010 9:01 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2010 9:38 am
Gilbert Arenas tore the Wizards apart. On Tuesday night, the basketball gods took a major step toward putting them back together.
The Wizards "went through a lot last year," Wall said. "I'll have an opportunity to help turn the organization around. They have cap space to add some good players."
Wall said he'd received a text from his college coach, John Calipari, who is at the center of speculation about several NBA coaching jobs. Wall said he hasn't discussed Coach Cal's future with him -- nor has he spoken with his pal, LeBron James, since his season ended prematurely with a loss to Boston in the conference semifinals.
As for the possibility that ping pong balls and free agency could bring them together somewhere, Wall said, "That would be exciting, but I haven't talked to him about that. I'm just excited to get a chance to play in the NBA."
Posted on: May 19, 2009 9:15 pm
LOS ANGELES -- What better place to take in the drama, the suspense, the hysteria of the Clippers winning the NBA draft lottery than the press room of the building where they have played mostly disastrous basketball for years? Yes, here I am in Staples Center, where everyone is in stitches over the Clippers getting the No. 1 pick in the June draft.
Go ahead laugh ... it's funny!
First of all, let there be no mistake. The No. 1 pick in this draft is Blake Griffin. This is what you and I have been hearing for months, and I spoke Tuesday with an NBA team executive I trust to make sure it was still the consensus. He assured me that there was no conceivable scenario in which someone other than Griffin is the No. 1 pick. Now, there was news out of Dallas Tuesday that a woman gave birth to twins who were fathered by different men, so I suppose anything is possible. But let's just call this as stone cold a lock as you can have.
Two thoughts came to mind when the final three teams in the lottery were announced. First, how thankful must David Stern be that Oklahoma City didn't get the No. 1 pick? The conspiracy theories about the fix being in for the Thunder to get their Oklahoma guy would've been overwhelming. Second, to be brutally honest, I felt pity for Griffin, who said the following in a televised interview immediately after the draft order was announced:
"I'm going to try to make the best out of whatever situation I'm put in."
Good luck with that, Blake.
"I hope I can make a big impact," Griffin said. "I'm going to try to learn as much as I can on the fly and hopefully help the team out."
The questions about what Griffin hopes to learn about being a pro from the likes of Zach Randolph ... well, those will have to wait for another day.
I can't speculate on how much of an impact Griffin will make on the Clippers, who've been trying to positively define the word impact for as long as Griffin has been alive. But one thing the NBA executive I spoke with made clear was this: If the Clippers got the No. 1 pick, you can bet money that either Chris Kaman or Marcus Camby will be traded this summer. If you want to bet that it'll be a bad trade, that's up to you.
On the bright side, maybe the Sacramento Kings have eclipsed the Clippers as the most cursed franchise in the NBA. Despite the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick, the Kings fell all the way to fourth. The Kings needed Griffin a lot more, and probably would've had a better chance of improving with him than the Clips.