Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, was in Minneapolis for the dedication of The Courts at Mayo Clinic Square, the fantastic new practice and medical facilities for the Timberwolves and the Lynx, and was asked to talk about the growth of the league and the change in facilities.
“I’m happy to talk about it, but you’re the one who should be talking, because you’ve seen so much of the history of this league,” said Silver, referring to my long association with the Minneapolis Lakers and also the Chicago Zephyrs, who became the Baltimore Bullets before moving to Washington. “I’m a short-timer compared to you, but I would say in the almost 25 years that I’ve been involved in the league the growth has been spectacular.”
Silver was asked to talk about the great interest in the Golden State Warriors’ NBA Finals victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“[Tuesday] night’s Game 6 in the Finals was seen in 215 countries, was televised in 50 different languages — think about that,” Silver said. “The NBA is truly a global phenomenon and, most importantly, this goes hand-in-hand with the Mayo Clinic — basketball is a road to fitness for so many young boys and girls in the world.”
With all of the excitement over the Wolves, it’s amazing to think that the team almost moved to New Orleans and now they not only have a great future with some outstanding young talent, but might have the finest practice facilities in the league.
“[Former NBA commissioner] David [Stern] did so much to build this franchise and Glen [Taylor] picked the ball up and ran with it, as they say,” Silver said, referring to the team’s owner. “[Taylor] has done a spectacular job. I think the best days are ahead for this franchise when I look at this new facility and think about how well the Lynx have done on the floor and these young players on the floor for the Timberwolves — of course the No. 1 pick this year, so the prospects are wonderful for this team.”
Silver also talked about what Taylor has meant to the league.
“Glen means more to the league than most people realize,” he said. “He is the chairman of the board of our Board of Governors, he’s a real leader behind closed doors.”
A game changer
Silver was asked if having state-of-the-art facilities could help the franchise compete.
“Yeah, I think no doubt it’s a catalyst,” Silver replied. “Of course they have the players, a strong roster already that is going to be complemented by a first pick but, in addition, it’s part and parcel with modern sports that you need facilities like this. In any system where you have a salary cap, there’s a recruitment aspect as well. And I think bringing players in here, whether for the Timberwolves and the Lynx, and showing them a facility like this, on top of the upgrades they’re about to make with the arena, makes a huge difference in this day and age.”
Lastly, Silver said that someday he would welcome the idea of Kevin Garnett as a new owner with the Timberwolves.
“Of course he can’t discuss that while he’s still a player, and I’m sure there have been no discussions yet about him being a minority owner,” said Silver. “But I think now we’re about to approve a new Atlanta Hawks ownership group that includes Grant Hill, we have David Robinson in San Antonio, Michael Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. We love to see former players coming into ownership and I would welcome with open arms Kevin Garnett becoming an owner one day as well.”
A lot of the Vikings were surprised when the team indicated dissatisfaction with the performance of long snapper Cullen Loeffler, and brought in Kevin McDermott, who has been with the Ravens and 49ers, to compete for the spot. Loeffler has been the long snapper for 12 years and signed a contract extension in March.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner was asked if there were any specifics Loeffer needs to improve on.
“Just overall performance, better rotation, better location of the ball, a little bit better velocity,” Turner said. “I think he wore down a little bit as the season wore on last year and I think he came back strong. You know, Cullen is a great guy, and he’s very competitive and he’s very passionate about what he does and he’s got a great work ethic. And Kevin has come in and the chemistry between all four of these guys has been fantastic.”
• A good source reports that the Wild are no cinch to sign goalie Devan Dubnyk, whose outstanding play after being acquired in a trade was key to putting the Wild into the playoffs. The word is that Dubnyk is looking for a five-year contract for $25 million, and because Dubnyk didn’t exactly shine in the Chicago series, there’s a possibility that he’ll be playing elsewhere next year.
• Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders was asked what his plans are for the two second-round draft choices he has, plus the No. 1 overall pick.
“We’re trying to move up into the first round if we can, we’re trying to be aggressive with that,” he said. “A lot of it depends on who is there. If we see a player there that can help us right now we will take him. If we see a player that might help us [in the future], a European player that we project will come in a couple years, we’d probably take him. If we think there’s somebody there that might not, we’re not just going to take the pick because we have it. So right now we’re in the idea of trying to use those picks to bring in some more talent.”
• Tom Kurvers, the former Minnesota Duluth and NHL hockey player and now a senior adviser with the Tampa Bay Lighting, said former Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox has a bright future with the team. Wilcox signed with the Lightning in April. “Adam Wilcox makes us a better organization,” he said. “He’ll go and learn the craft in the American [Hockey] League and then earn his way up to the NHL. His cousin did the same thing, Alex Stalock for San Jose, so Adam knows the path. He knows he has to put the work in and we’re happy to have him aboard.”
• Both Gary Trent Jr. and Tre Jones helped lead Team USA to the Under-16 Championship at the FIBA Americas Cup in Panama. Trent averaged a team-high 16.8 points to go along with 2.8 rebounds per game, while Jones averaged 4.6 points and had a team-high 18 total assists and 19 total steals. Team USA went 5-0 overall and defeated Canada to win gold. Trent was named MVP of the tournament.
• The Gophers, who consistently have finished high in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup, which charts academic progress in athletics, didn’t do as well this year, finishing 26th overall and fifth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com