Habits, as we know, can sometimes become destructive and expensive things.
On Tuesday night, Minnesota GM David Kahn used the word to describe the latest NBA Draft Lottery. It was a calculated and ill-fated attempt at humor, a jab weaker than any posed by “Sugar” Shane Mosley in his tepid effort against Manny Pacquiao a couple weeks back.
The background story is that Minnesota has never beaten the odds and improved its draft stock. The team has either fit into the slot equivalent to the odds or lower.
“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said, while smiling, on Tuesday. “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 (Utah executive) Kevin (O’Connor): ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us, and I was right.”
* Gilbert has neurofibromatosis, a nerve disorder.
Needless to say, Kahn’s added new fuel to a longstanding public cynicism regarding this event and the league overall. Play the word association game with five friends who follow the NBA and say the name “Patrick Ewing.” At least one of them will curse the draft and bring up the “frozen envelope.” Say the name “Tim Donaghy” and watch the heads start shaking. Bring up “0.4″ to a Spurs fan and you might get hit.
The integrity of the league has been called into question on a number of occasions. David Stern handed out a $500,000 fine to Mark Cuban for his repeated complaints about officiating. Phil Jackson joked about the $35 K that he had to pay to the league as he wandered toward unemployment at the end of the Lakers’ dismal effort for the same.
This is a much bigger issue and cannot be easily dismissed. You have the GM of an NBA franchise poking the logo. Kahn didn’t call a single official to task here. He didn’t question a charging foul, a free throw disparity or any of the usual barbs tossed at referees. He poked Stern, the ruler of this NBA universe, in the sternum.
Forget about the seemingly innocuous use of the term “habit” here. Kahn sent up a flare into the sky and essentially flipped a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin-inspired double-bird to the league.
I am sure that David Stern will respond with an equally smug commentary about the Timberwolves’ continued frustration at having to make appearances at the NBA Draft Lottery televised event. He’ll speak to the team’s inability to bring Ricky Rubio over from Spain and Minnesota’s unhealthy obsession with point guards. Stern will then reach very deep into Kahn’s pocket and the team’s.
I suspect that a very large donation to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, for whom Nick Gilbert is an ambassador, is about to be made.
Kahn isn’t filling airtime on the radio or filing to a newspaper or a blog. Leave the conspiracy theories to simmer there.
Spend the time spinning a yarn on a recruiting trip to a free agent. Figure out a way to get back to a near-.500 record so that you can get swept in the first round of the playoffs instead of picking out a new suit for this event.
See the full story from Sean Deveney of Sporting News here .