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.

Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: May 22, 2011 3:57 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Insensitive and inappropriate?  Really?

Sounds like something David Stern would say.  Count me among those who isn't cheering about Cleveland getting the #1 pick; they don't deserve it because LeBron left.  Do they deserve it at all?  Well, that's debatable.  I'm leaning toward "no", and I think Kahn was correct in pointing out the "habit" the NBA has of giving the #1 to certain teams via the lottery.

Then again, does it even matter?  Probably not. 

Since: Nov 23, 2008
Posted on: May 21, 2011 5:36 am

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Minnesota doesn't have a poor lottery record, it has a poor draft record. Try scouting and picking someone good, and maybe you won't be in the lottery to bgin with.

Since: Nov 14, 2009
Posted on: May 19, 2011 10:43 am

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

I have no problems with what Kahn says, as he's right.

If the NBA wanted to be on the up and up, release the Matrix of the ping pong ball combinations and show the lottery live and bring forth a lot more transparency.

Pull three balls, and then list the remaining combinations on the screen and pull the fourth ball. This would be very dramatic, and a lot more dramatic than the crap they put up now.

Then do the 2nd and 3rd picks.

No different with the refs. Let's see their grades and publicise their discipline.

There's a reason many a fan doesn't trust Stern. It's all correctable, so why not do it? Unless there's a reason.

Ken...this article does scream schill. Why were Kahn's comments"unfortunate"? Cause the NBA PR machince says so?

Since: Aug 23, 2007
Posted on: May 19, 2011 9:09 am

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

The stories have been bouncing around for years. The NBA Draft Lottery is as much of a sham as Arnold Schwarzenegger, at least as far as determining the first pick.

It all started in 1985 when the New York Knicks were rewarded with the top pick and the Indiana Pacers finished second. The league was using envelopes then, and the fable goes that the Knicks’ envelope had been stuffed in a refrigerator all day so it was easy to identify by touch when it was time to pull and  pair it with the top pick.

The Knicks got Patrick Ewing. The Indiana Pacers, picking second, got Wayman Tisdale. The NBA got what it wanted — a star in its largest media market.

The conspiracy theories have ebbed and flowed through the years. Last year it was allegedly time for the Washington Wizards to be rewarded, in memory of their long-time owner, Abe Pollin.

And this year - the Cleveland Cavaliers won in recognition of the pain and suffering they endured after losing LeBron James last July.

Who said so?

Well, David Kahn, general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, certainly suggested it in his post lottery comments:

"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: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right."

OK, Kahn was probably kidding. But the Lottery Conspiracy folks likely added a few more believers. And Kahn can likely count on a fine from NBA commissioner David Stern.

It’s crazy talk, in my opinion. David Stern would never risk the credibility of his entire league on something like this. If proof of a fixed lottery ever got out, the NBA would be toast and some folks would be going to jail.

But on the morning after the NBA Draft Lottery, it certainly seems like as many people are discussing a fixed lottery as they are about the players about to be drafted.

Since: Jun 27, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:58 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Should he have said it to the public, no.  Because it is easy to misconstrue a comment without context.  However, I can understand what he is saying.  He said multiple times that he doesn't believe that the draft is rigged.

However, it is more of a comment on fate.  There is a lottery draft, there is a good sentimental story involved with one of the teams, that is not the TimberWolves.  Well, fate is against them again.  It is a joke, not against the kid...not suggesting a rigging.  It is just a joke about the Timberwolves situation.  In other words, don't read too far into a comment.  Put yourselves in the shoes of the person.  Then it may be easier to understand some of these comments.  (And if you say that you never say jokes that could be considered offensive, either A) you are bold faced liar.  or B)  your incredibly boring.) 

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:53 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

Are you really arguing that because LeBron James, Dwight Howard, etc. haven't won a title yet that it's no big deal that the Cavs and Magic got to draft them?  As for Rose, Griffin, and Wall, it's way too early for those 3 to be judged on winning a ring even though it looks like they'll all be perennial all-stars down the line.
Yes all in all yes. Im arguing that if idiotic people think the draft is rigged, in which it could be, how redundant it would be regardless. Since none of those guys being drafted FIRST has led their team to winning a title. What is the purpose of a draft in the first place? What is the purpose of an organization in the NBA? Yes you guessed it, to win a title.

I was just posting the past 10 or 11 picks, but not judging the newer guys like Rose or Wall who have plenty of time to lead their team to titles. What I'm saying is the fact that even if the freaking draft was rigged, who is benefiting? A bunch of small market teams that can't attract free agents? The argument is redundant. I would have been disappointed had we not got a top 3 pick. But with my knowledge I understand that the lottery is not some magic formula to winning a title. The lottery is just that, the lottery.

Us winning the first pick doesn't guarantee competitiveness anymore than us getting the 3rd pick. It just doesn't. Sure it's better to have the first pick, but it isn't a lock to change your franchise around. There are only 3 out of 11 players that I named that turned their franchise around on that list. Lebron is gone from his original team and expect Howard to be on his way out. Doesn't matter. Michael Jordan didn't even get picked first.

Hey how did the Lakers first round 1st pick work out for them the last 2 years they won the title? Oh yeah that's right, they didn't have one! How about the Celtics or the Dwayne Wade+Shaq Miami Heat team? How'd that first pick work out for them? The only present name that has won multiple titles with his respective team as the top pick is Tim Duncan. You know how that happened? Something called an injury to David Robinson. Which basically led to two hall of fame centers playing together. It never would have happened had Robinson not got hurt.

Since: Feb 16, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:49 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine


Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:46 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

The NBA is the WWF's equivalent for the 3 major sports. The officials are a joke, everything about is laughable. Yea, this guy was ticked but the league has a previous histories of shaky things. I'm sure it was not rigged but with the NBA--you never know..............gosh, I hope I don't get fined!!

Since: Aug 10, 2008
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:41 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

So Cleveland loses LeBron and wins the lottery?  Orlando loses Shaq and wins the lottery?  New York wins the first lottery and gets Patrick Ewing?  Nothing funny there, at all.  I'm sure that's all just the luck of the draw.  Wink.  Wink. 

Since: Mar 25, 2009
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:26 pm

Kahn explains comments; NBA considers fine

but as for the cavs draft, if they can take irving, then come behind with kanter, i say thats the best way to go, but if they have a feeling a team like utah is going to take kanter and decide to stick with devin harris at point instead of drafting knight, id say they should go williams #1, with knight being the #4 pick, those are the 2 best scenarios for them in this draft, but if the draft goes down 1 irving, 2 williams, 3 kanter, the cavs might want to reach for a defensive presence like a tristan thompson

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