Glen Taylor graduated from Comfrey High School in 1959. Six decades later, he was introducing a new leader of his Timberwolves basketball operation for the fifth time at Target Center.
First, there was Kevin McHale in 1995, followed by David Kahn in 2009, Flip Saunders in 2013, Tom Thibodeau in 2016 and, on Monday, Gersson Rosas, 40, and hired from the Houston organization.
Taylor used “teamwork,’’ “hard worker,’’ “experienced,’’ “integrity’’ and “flexibility’’ as qualities he was looking for in a new president of basketball operations, and qualities that he found in meeting with Rosas.
These were words and phrases that would have been approved by Margaret Mett, the outstanding English teacher during Taylor’s time at Comfrey High School. They could have been used in a composition paper and earned Taylor as high as a B+, since those terms pretty much make a point.
I’m guessing the guy two seats to Taylor’s left – Ethan Casson, team president for business – would not have had a chance with Comfrey’s English teacher.
The televised portion of Monday’s introductory sessions included no questions from the media. It was spontaneity-free, other than Rosas’ 3-year-old twins, Giana and Grayson, arriving to disrupt the proceedings.
Watching on TV, this appeared also to be part of the planning, although there was disagreement on this from media members who had a 360-degree view of the kids’ charge to the stage and that I collaborated with later in the day.
(Note: I did not actually interface with these reporters; we talked on the phone.)
All questions came from Alan Horton, play-by-play man, and obviously were run through before the start of the 10 a.m. introductory session. There are rehearsal dinners for weddings; the Timberwolves now appear to have rehearsal breakfasts for what used to be called a press (or news) conference.
Opening statements were followed by Horton offering modified versions of this stickler of a question to the three parties: “How fantastic was the interview process that led to this incredibly wise decision – to hire and to accept this position?''
Rosas was first and threw in a “collaborative,’’ and Taylor, who owns the Star Tribune, tossed in a “culture,’’ but then Casson came along with a stream of buzz words and phrases that would have left Margaret Mett with a busy red pencil and a headache.
Somewhere on the paper, there would have been a grade of D-minus, and with the message, “Make clear what you mean, Ethan.’’
Casson was quick to say on Monday: “We talk about family, we talk about culture, we talk about alignment, we talk about collaboration ...’’
As for the family part, it looked on TV as if Gersson and his wife Susana are going to have their hands full with the pair of 3-year-olds attempting to run amok. Plus,claiming the family angle along with every other athletic enterprise (including those raising that bar to FAMILY, Forget About Me, I Love You) is now such a cliché that it did not cause viewers to pause and say:
“Wow, the Timberwolves will soon be dominant in the NBA after one playoff appearance in 15 years because they have become a family.’’
Culture – blah, blah, blah.
Alignment – with new vehicles, it’s not nearly the problem in the models that young Glen Taylor was driving long ago on the country roads near Comfrey.
Collaborative – reporters and co-workers gave Derek Falvey, in his third season as the Twins’ baseball CEO, such a hard time about his constant use of this one that he now fights himself to avoid saying it in a public forum.
Casson came back from that impressive flurry of four buzz words in one sentence with an interfacing, a 360-degree view, an interface, another collaborative and, finally, a very inclusive.
“Interface – Ethan?’’ Margaret Mett would have written on the margin of this composition. “Does that mean you talked to someone?’’
D-minus, son, and you were lucky to get that.
The entire televised non-news conference was intended to carry this message:
We know that you as fans came to dislike Thibodeau; well, we didn’t like him, either, and we’ve hired a really nice family man to replace bachelor Thibs as our basketball president, and after a thorough search of two or three days, he’s going to sign off on hiring a really nice young man, Ryan Saunders, from our favorite basketball family to continue as coach, and we’re going to take off from here as a collaborating, aligning, integrating, 360-degree viewing, interfacing basketball family.
And where is this going to lead?
Ah, we’ll be able to give you a better read on that next Tuesday when we find out where we wind up in the draft lottery.
For sure, there is an early lesson to be taken for Rosas from the Thibodeau experience here:
If you wind up with the fifth pick in your first draft, don’t take the senior from Providence who can’t shoot (Kris Dunn), take the Kentucky freshman who can shoot (Jamal Murray), and then you can sell the basketball, not the ingredients of a D-minus composition paper.