Veteran Timberwolves employees complain that Target Center was built on an ancient burial ground. Some of them roll their eyes in recognition that a combination of Glen Taylor, Kevin McHale, J.R. Rider, Jack McCloskey, Jimmy Rodgers, Stephon Marbury and Marko Jaric ruined their franchise. They rarely, though, dare to speak the name of the man who cursed their team, turning the Wolves into the worst-run pro sports franchise east of Oakland.
Legend has it that the Wolves employed an entertainer who called himself "Joey Two-Step." Joey pretended to be a random fan, but he was paid to wander onto the court and break-dance during timeouts. After one such performance he even received a high-five from a Celtic named Kevin McHale.
When the Wolves found reason to give Joey his walking papers, Mr. Two-Step spat out these fateful words: ''No one fires Joey Two-Step. Curse the Timberwolves. I am putting a hex on you."
That explains Ndudi Ebi.
What is particularly frightening about the legend of Joey Two-Step is not just that his hex has proved so effective. It is that if he had stuck around and brought Taylor the occasional cup of coffee, today he might be the leading candidate to become the next general manager of the franchise he doomed.
Be honest: Who would you rather see making decisions, Joey Two-Step or Glen Twelve-Step?
If admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, then Glen (Twelve-Step) Taylor will need a baker's dozen of epiphanies to make the Wolves relevant again.
Three general manager candidates that we know of have turned down the Wolves or pulled out of consideration. The first of the three, San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey, seemed perfectly suited for the job.
There was a problem with the interview process, though: Lindsey met Taylor.
Rumor has it Lindsey didn't even wait for his flight back to San Antonio; he sprinted to catch the next Greyhound out of downtown, and left clutching the back bumper of a bus.
What we have learned this month is that Taylor is not looking for a dynamic general manager to transform his inept franchise. He is looking for someone who will defer to the owner and tag-team with Fred Hoiberg and perhaps tolerate McHale and pretend that this isn't the plot of a blockbuster summer movie titled "Twilight Zone Meets Groundhog Day."
Taylor has become Al Davis, without the fashion sensibility. Calvin Griffith, without the irresponsible spending sprees. Donald Sterling without the sunshine.
If Taylor ran his paper business the way he runs the Wolves, every other book bought at Barnes & Noble would spontaneously combust.
Any half-asleep basketball fan could have conducted this search better than Taylor. You hire the brightest up-and-coming GM candidate in the league, in this case Lindsey. You suggest that he hire the perfect Wolves coaching candidate, Sam Mitchell, but you let the new GM make that decision. You move decisively so the new GM can prepare for and conduct the draft. You get the heck out of the way and let the guy hire his own staff, and recognize that the name "Glen Taylor'' is synonymous with ineptitude and nepotism and that you're going to continue to scare your fan base away from $5 tickets until the populace knows you've gone into hibernation.
To summarize, all Taylor had to do was hire Lindsey, hand him the keys and get out of the way. Instead, whomever he hires will be viewed as his fourth choice at best, and if he chooses Hoiberg, nothing he does in the short term will alter the perception that Taylor is incapable of hiring anyone who hasn't given him a foot massage or a three-foot putt in the past year.
The NBA held its lottery selection show Tuesday night, yet we still have no idea who will run or coach the Wolves next season, and our worst suspicions -- that McHale will get to call his own shots, that Taylor will blow his chance to transform his franchise -- are becoming increasingly likely.
The latest word out of Target Center is that Taylor is trying to make a cheap hire, and that he has asked at least one candidate to undergo extensive psychological testing.
The candidate should have said: "You first."
When Taylor vowed to hire a new GM, we were hoping for someone remindful of Jerry West. At this point we'd settle for Doug, or Kanye, or Mae.
Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • firstname.lastname@example.org