Adelman and Kahn, together again with Wolves

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2011 - 1:32 AM

David Kahn and Rick Adelman have a history from more than two decades ago when Adelman coached the Trail Blazers and Kahn was a columnist for the Oregonian.

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Rick Adelman coaching the Kings in 2003.

Photo: Randy Pench, Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

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Timberwolves boss David Kahn, as many of you know, used to write about the NBA as a sports writer and columnist for the Oregonian in Portland. This news became infinitely more interesting last week, when it was announced the Wolves had hired Rick Adelman -- a former Trail Blazers head coach who crossed paths with Kahn more than two decades ago when both were in those old roles.

The curiosity factor went up another notch when Yahoo.com, citing unnamed sources, indicated Adelman "couldn't stand [Kahn] then," and essentially still doesn't care for him.

Where the truth really lies in terms of their current relationship is a matter only they can know (and hopefully will address at some point). What we have for now, thanks to some vital research by Star Tribune staff librarian Sandy Date, are 28 pieces from the Oregonian archives from between November 1988 and September 1989, written by Kahn and featuring at least one mention of Adelman.

Kahn's bio on Timberwolves.com says his time at the paper ended in 1989 -- meaning there wasn't much of an overlap between his time there and the head coaching reign of Adelman, who was promoted to interim head coach in the middle of the 1988-89 season and landed the gig full-time in 1989-90. Many of the stories merely mention Adelman in passing or quote him briefly, but there are several choice morsels upon which to chew:

• In a May 6, 1989, piece, Kahn endorses the hiring of Adelman as full-time Blazers coach, saying Adelman has "won the confidence and trust of his players."

• In the same piece, he also manages to take this stinging shot at the organization: "Having covered the NBA for the last four seasons, I can say this with full confidence: With the exception of the Los Angeles Clippers and perhaps the Sacramento Kings, no front office has a worse reputation among NBA insiders than your Portland Trail Blazers. ... Nobody makes tough decisions in this franchise." Those who consistently rip the Kahn regime with the Timberwolves -- plenty of current sportswriters are among them -- might find some ironic glee when reading that.

• That wasn't Kahn's only shot at Portland's front office. He was generally relentless in his distaste for the Blazers' bosses, writing this about head of personnel Bucky Buckwalter and his inability to make big trades: "Unfortunately, like the players they oversee, the Blazers' decisionmakers melt under pressure. No wonder Buckwalter could detect his team was full of wimps. It takes one to know one."

• Kahn praises Adelman's ability to get through to star Clyde Drexler, who had worn out his welcome with other coaches. He also lauded Adelman in a separate piece for reaching out to embattled player Kiki Vandeweghe early in his interim coaching tenure -- calling it "Adelman's first brilliant move as a head coach."

• Kahn wrote a profile of Adelman and his daughter Kathy, then a senior in 1989 playing for her high school basketball team. "He really intimidates the boys who come to the house," Kathy was quoted as saying. "They're really afraid to meet him.''

• In short: The evidence suggests that while Kahn hammered the Portland decisionmakers, he was almost exclusively positive in his coverage of Adelman. All we have are the words in front of us, indelible and a part of history in a way we might never expect.

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