Souhan: Laughingstock Wolves are real reason to be mad at Kahn

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 19, 2011 - 10:46 PM

Forget his draft lottery humor. Wait until he tries to show off his creativity with that No. 2 pick.

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Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune file

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David Kahn likes to think of himself as the smartest person in the room, if "room" is a euphemism for "really big room" or, as scientists call it, "the universe."

The man can't leave bad enough alone. He works for Glen Taylor. He runs the Minnesota Timberwolves. His decisions produced the worst record in the NBA this season. And, while working on his new rap album, he has failed to come up with a rhyme for his favorite word, "bifurcate."

If you want to bash Kahn, you can pick on his choice of point guards and a speaking style that makes him sound like a cross between a record producer in "Spinal Tap" and the boss in "Office Space."

Don't, though, bash him for trying to be funny. When you work for Taylor and run the Timberwolves, you've got to have a sense of humor.

Kahn flew to the NBA draft lottery and wound up on stage with 14-year-old Nick Gilbert, the son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. The Cavs landed the first pick, and Kahn, with that smirk, said:

"Once the 14-year-old kid hit the dais with us, we were dead. There was no way. This league has a habit, and I'm just going to say a habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines. 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 both been bar mitzvahed.''

That comment offended Wolves fans who can't stand Kahn and led to a great overreaction from national media members who ... can't stand Kahn.

Go back and read the quote. First of all, he doesn't say in any serious way that the lottery is fixed. Second, he was obviously joking, as you can see by the way he delivers the line. Third, it's a pretty funny bit, even better than his classic "Show of hands?" routine. Or the drafting of Jonny Flynn.

We've got to stop parsing everything every public figure says. We've already gotten to the point where teams issue canned statements through their public relations departments to ensure that their big-name employees don't cause exactly this kind of firestorm.

I'd much rather live in a world where Ozzie Guillen occasionally says something offensive while trying to be entertaining than a world in which someone like Kahn is afraid to speak publicly. Kahn's speeches are the only entertainment we get during basketball season.

Kahn even got fined by NBA Commissioner David Stern last summer for discussing Michael Beasley's marijuana use. If Kahn hadn't clued us in, I'm not sure anyone would have guessed that an underachieving young NBA player with funky hair who had been fined by the league for being in a room where marijuana was present at the NBA rookie symposium actually smoked the stuff. I'm sure it was his cousin's, and Beasley was just holding it.

Feel free to complain about Kahn. Just complain for the right reasons, such as this:

When he became the Wolves' basketball boss, Kahn took forever to dismiss Kevin McHale as coach and replace him with Kurt Rambis. Kahn conducted the draft without the input of a coach, leading to the decisions that still haunt him: drafting Flynn and Ricky Rubio, then drafting and trading Ty Lawson.

This spring, Kahn is letting Rambis dangle and appears to be ready to conduct another important draft without the input of a coach.

If the Wolves had landed the first pick in the draft, they may have felt obligated to take the consensus best player, Kyrie Irving. If they had dropped to No. 3 or 4, they might have been forced to take the best big man or trade the pick.

At No. 2, the Wolves have a tough decision to make, and that's what should scare us. Kahn should select Arizona's Derrick Williams, because Williams is a dynamic talent who can shoot with range and get to the rim.

But Kahn likes point guards, trades and the spotlight. Owning the No. 2 pick gives Kahn a chance to get creative.

How many people think he could do something really wacky? Show of hands?

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2:40 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is Souhanstrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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