A Non-Perez Hilton Look at Kahn’s “Rigging” Comments

Maybe Adam Carolla had it right: In Fifty Years, We’ll All be Chicks.

Last night when, to my delight, the Wolves ended up with the #2 overall pick, word quickly traveled of yet another soon-to-be-famous Kahn interview “blunder” that quickly spiraled out of control. Fueled by over-dramatic columnists continuously spearheading an ever-rising trend of melodramatic, emotionally-driven US Weekly-esque articles, several stories surfaced. Kahn was trending on Twitter by 11:00 PM CST. Nearly all reports I read contained the same general idea: Kahn thinks the lottery is rigged! Kahn is very unlikable and just made the biggest professional mistake of his life!! He is going to get fined $400,000,000! We are all going to die! Here is the quote as it was generally reported:

Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn said he knew Minnesota was “dead” when it got down to the final three of himself, Utah executive Kevin O’Connor and Nick Gilbert, the son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who was born with neurofibromatosis. “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.”

Of course they throw in the nerve condition tag on the Gilbert kid, a point Kahn didn’t even begin to mention, as if Kahn was scorning some child on his deathbed. Way to invoke public sympathy.

Now, and sorry to interrupt anyone’s tampon run this will only take a minute, take a look at the actual footage of what happened. It is towards the end:


What on earth is the fuss? Pretend that isn’t Kahn for a minute. Rationalize the situation and separate yourself from your favorite POBO. Looking at the video without bias, do you give it any form of second glance or begin to speculate he is even slightly serious? He even threw in a Jewish joke about himself (uh, oh! I used the word ‘Jewish’ in an article…better lobby for this site to be shut down and deemed some form of anti-semetism cell). 

Get a life.

And the best part? Even if Kahn were remotely serious, he is stating something thousands have thought before and continue to whine about to this day: there is an outside hand influencing the draft lottery results. Are you telling me that Adrian Wojnorowski (who tweeted last night that Kahn was an “arrogant former D-League GM”…a Tweet which has since been deleted) or Chad Ford, two of Kahn’s harshest critics, have never once thought there was an invisible hand guiding the ping pong balls? Have they? Oh, ok, they should be fired, thrown into a Turkish prison and fined 20% of their annual salary. Good riddance. 

Whether you truly believe the lottery is rigged or not, Kahn hardly did anything wrong. Personally, I think there are some outside influences (why make it so secretive?), but the “rigging” is also blown out of proportion and exaggerated in kahnconvenient kahncontext, without looking at the big picture.  Regardless of which team would have won the #1 pick, every Wolves fan would come up with some reason to cry “rigged.” Any team. Last year it was Washington. Huh? What would provoke Stern to gift the Wizards John Wall over the Nets? To, and this is my favorite theorist response to this question, “not be suspicious?” This year it was “making up for The Decision” and awarding the 29th largest market 2 top 4 draft picks. That might make sense if the NBA were the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Before continuing, I can totally see it. It is very difficult to argue against a Cleveland-based rigging situation on surface level. Part of me thinks it absolutely was planned ahead. But, if the lottery is rigged, Stern sure is choosing silly teams to win. Why help the Cleveland brass when they mismanaged the LeBron situation and didn’t surround him with anyone but Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Illgauskas? Why give them BOTH #1 and #4 when you could sneak in their own pick at #1 and “help out” another franchise too (Toronto – enormous market, would rank amongst the top 5 or 6 in the US…. or even Sacramento desperately needing a new stadium and having a fantastic, loyal fan base?), while leaving the LAC pick at #8? Look, there are obviously some fishy things going on as it pertains to the lottery, but Stern doesn’t help franchises correct obvious mismanagement. He isn’t going to bail out Utah for their staff making the conscious decision to trade away Deron Williams. And these same theorists are clamoring that the league “heavily favors the big market teams” (as stated when the Clippers won the Griffin lottery and, of course, forgetting that Oklahoma City is in the Western Finals, or that LeBron even ended up in Cleveland in the first place). Well, which is it? You can’t have it both ways. Is Stern putting forth a good faith gesture to Cleveland here? For what reason? Charity? Are conspiracy theorists really leading everyone to believe that the league, all the while losing hundreds of millions of dollars and doing its best to lower salaries by nearly one billion dollars within three years, is going to inject a tiny market team just to be nice? Backwards thinking. No incentive for the league to do that. Story or not. Do I still think it’s fishy? Absolutely. But after some thought, giving Cleveland two top 4 picks doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at all.

Enough rambling. Back to Kahn: 

After a quick glance around a few T-Wolves sites, opinion was surprisingly split on the comments, with a series of fans claiming “Kahn went too far this time!” Or even “this was a fireable offense!” Really? Goodness, who cares? This is sports, not adjusting your Roth elections. Why must these things be taken more seriously than the State of the Union address? Shouldn’t he have been fired already? If anything, it was a humorous quip, and also the same thing so many people speculate about constantly year after year, including half of the people whining about this and acting as if Kahn just traded Kevin Love and the #2 pick for Hasheem Thabeet (a trade fellow respected columnist College Wolf would probably endorse). The only thing Kahn was saying, in an obviously joking, lighthearted manner, is what NBA fandom has been speculating ever since the Ewing incident: the draft lottery isn’t entirely legit. And while that may be true, despite the fact that the NBA has absolutely no incentive nor financial obligation to award Cleveland, Kahn adds to his pile of questionable, if not hyperbolic,  PR situations yet again.

With that said, in a non-traditional closing, he needs to go as soon as possible. The thought of him running this draft and taking Biyombo 2nd overall is more horrifying than watching Ernest films on repeat for all of eternity.

UPDATE: Kahn defends his Kahmments here, in a report from apparent Kardashian sister Ken Berger, who also takes far too many dramatic jabs below the belt. The context in which the question came is what makes this whole thing even more baffling:

“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.”


About wallyworld

Mike has been writing for TWB as a hobby since the Kahn era, and currently resides in a Dallas suburb where he can often be heard loudly arguing with his neighbors about his strong dislike for JJ Barea. When not working, Mike enjoys playing the drums and pretending to like other sports.