(UPDATE: David Kahn has released this official statement: "The first question I was asked last night after the lottery, by reporters, was whether the Timberwolves were jinxed for our lottery record though the years. I don't believe in jinxes, curses, hocus pocus and I certainly don't think we were wronged. But  I do believe in the power of story, and it's a heck of a lot better story for a 14-year-old kid to beat out a couple of middle-aged executives standing together on a national stage. And our league tends to have its own share of luck in being a part of those stories."  I just got off the phone with Kahn and I'll be writing up a story about his reaction to the reaction to his comments.)

Well, folks around the country apparently don’t think Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn is very funny.

A tempest has erupted over Kahn’s apparent attempt at humor when talking about the Wolves finishing second to Cleveland in Tuesday night’s draft lottery. Kahn made a joke about it on the floor of the NBA’s studio in Secaucus, N.J., then reiterated that joke in a conference call with the Twin Cities media. 

The scene: The final three slots were about to be announced, and the league had Kahn, Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor and the Cleveland representative stand together for the unveiling. The Cavs’ rep was 14-year-old Nick Gilbert, the son of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert. The young man is dealing with a rare nerve disorder.

After it was over, and Cleveland had won the top pick for the first time since drafting LeBron James, Kahn, talking to national reporters moments later said, among other things:

“I also feel very strongly that once the 14-year-old kid hit the dais with us, we were dead,” Kahn said, smiling. “We were just dead. There was no way.”

It should be noted, that reporters laughed at the comment. Funny? You decide. But Kahn continued:

“This league has a habit, and I’m just going to say a habit, of producing some pretty incredible storylines. Last year it was (late Washington Wizards owner) Abe Pollin’s widow, and this year it’s a 14-year-old boy who I only had one thing in common with: we’ve booth been bar mitzvahed.”

Later , on a conference call with Twin Cities media, Kahn offered another version of the same comment:

“I did tell {O’Connor}…as soon as the 14-year-old kid joined us, we were toast. There was no way the 14-year-old was about to be denied in a league that has a habit of compelling story lines.”

Folks have been reacting rather strongly. Heck, let’s be honest. Kahn has produced a firestorm of criticism. Here is a sampling:

--ESPN’s Chad Ford tweeted that Kahn “insinuates that the NBA rigged lottery to produce a story line. Can’t wait to see that fine.”

--Headline in the Huffington post: “David Kahn … hints that NBA draft lottery might have been rigged.”

--CBSsportsline.com’s Gregg Doyel fired off this missive. In a post titled, “So long, David Kahn,” Doyel said fining Kahn wasn’t enough, that he had to go. “By insinuating that the NBA manipulated the top of the draft lottery to take care of Cleveland – hell, he did it; he said it – Kahn moved an entire league one step closer to game-fixing referee Tim Donaghjy. And that’s a step that cannot be tolerated.”

It should be noted that, after Doyel actually watched the video of the interview Kahn gave, he backed off with an update: “It’s not nearly as nefarious as the stories coming out of the draft suggest,” Doyel wrote. “That said, he’s making light – in his own awkward, David Kahn way – of a widow and a kid with a nerve disorder. And he does raise the whiff of conspiracy theories. So I’m torn. Not sure he should be banished from the league anymore, no. But I’m pretty sure the league isn’t in a better place because David Kahn is in it.”

My opinion? It’s the same as I wrote for today’s paper. Kahn was attempting to make a joke. I chuckled when he said it. I do not think he was suggesting nefarious skullduggery.

But, that said, perhaps the bigger question is whether Kahn should stop putting himself in a position to be misunderstood. Remember, this has happened before. Last summer on NBA TV, on a broadcast from the summer league in Las Vegas, Kahn and Chris Webber had a set-to after Webber took exception about Kahn’s effusive praise of center Darko Milicic.

Also last summer, while doing a local radio interview, Kahn  said Michael Beasley’s problem in Miami was due to him smoking marijuana. Both Kahn and the Wolves were fined $50,000 each for that.

Bottom line? We’ll have to wait and see how the league reacts this time. My opinion was Kahn was making a joke. But I don’t know if NBA commissioner David Stern thought it was funny.

If you’d like to make up your own mind, here is a link to the Kahn interview last night:


Have a good day.

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