If you ask some Minnesota Timberwolves fans, one of the greatest mysteries in the NBA is the media's seemingly strange and sick fascination with making fun of the T'Wolves general manager, the one and only David Kahn.
Why have we adopted Kahn as our mutual whipping boy? Is it because we were all bullied as kids and this is how we're getting our pent-up rage out?
Nope. After all, we're not local cops. We're simply sportswriters and bloggers.
No, instead, we've all been mocking Kahn because, well…quite simply, he brings it upon himself. And if his recent personal letter to Timberwolves fans doesn't convince you, nothing will.
The first signs of true trouble with Kahn came in the 2009 draft, where he drafted PG Ricky Rubio with the No. 5 overall pick…and immediately turned around and drafted PG Jonny Flynn with the No. 6 overall pick. Rubio didn't play a single minute in the NBA last year, isn't going to play in the NBA this coming year, and could very well face an NBA lockout next year.
I'm pretty sure you could ask someone who's never watched the NBA if it's a good idea to draft two players of the same position back-to-back, and I'd bet they'd know the answer is a resounding "no."
Amazingly, even the forced exile of Rubio doesn't compare to Kahn's antics this summer.
Kahn made headlines back in July by calling Darko Milicic (the No. 2 pick from 2003, widely regarded as a massive bust throughout the league) "manna from heaven." He also compared Milicic's passing ability to that of Vlade Divac, one of the best big man passers in NBA history.
Around that same time, AOL FanHouse's Tom Ziller created a cheat sheet to Kahn's tenure as GM that should depress anyone who's ever cheered for the Timberwolves.
After examining each of Kahn's draft picks, trades, and free agency transactions, Ziller concludes that an inanimate object (he suggests an avocado) could have been running the Timberwolves better than Kahn these past few years. The sad part is that it's hard to argue with him.
And basketball-wise, Kahn did himself no favors this summer. I mean, really, who wouldn't trade away a guy two years removed from a 24-10 season (Al Jefferson) for Kosta Koufos and two protected future first-round draft picks?
Things didn't get much better when his theoretical Jefferson replacement, Kevin Love, spoke out in a Sports Illustrated interview in late August. "I hope we have a plan. I don't know what it is at this point," Love told SI writer Paul Forrester.
But, beyond the manna-from-heaven interview, Kahn had largely spared T'Wolves fans of too much public embarrassment, instead deciding to break their hearts behind closed doors.
Then, Kahn decided to take out a full-page ad in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, previewing what this season would hold for Minnesota fans.
Timberwolves, meet bus. Prepare to get thrown under bus.
Kahn cuts to the point quickly:
"We now have more shooting, athleticism, and depth at every position, which will make us a better team this season. So will we challenge for the NBA championship this year? Not likely."
Ah. Well, then. Bet those T'Wolves season ticket holders just got that much more excited. Now, I'm not a general manager, but wouldn't it seem to be good business practice to not take a dump on your team's hopes a month before the season can even start? (Let's be honest, your players will likely do a good enough job of that on their own this season.)
In the letter Kahn's quick to follow with:
"Ouch. This honesty thing is a bit painful. But the reality is, we still need that one dominant player. It's possible that that player could already be on our roster. We have eight guys who were selected in the top seven picks of their respective drafts, and the average age of those players is 22. So the potential is there for someone to emerge. "
Those eight aforementioned guys are: Milicic (2003), Corey Brewer (2007), Michael Beasley (2008), Jonny Flynn (2009), Ricky Rubio (2009), Kevin Love (2008), Wesley Johnson (2010), and Martell Webster (2005). He's not entirely crazy for proposing this. Love, Beasley, and Rubio all have star potential, and the other five have legitimate chances to develop into role players.
Then again, when you've accrued eight of the top seven picks since the 2003 draft, you'd probably expect that team to be pretty good, right? Like…not a 15-win team?
The true gem wasn't Kahn's full-page ad, though. No, it was the even longer letter to fans that the Star-Tribune's blog published the day after the Kahn ad.
Here, we've got some of the best Kahn-isms yet. Let's compare the following two paragraphs:
"At this point, I can safely say that the rebuilding of the Timberwolves roster is, at long last, nearly complete."
"The reality is, we are still lacking a dominant player—our version of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade or Kevin Durant—and that will remain an item at the top of the To-Do list."
Pretty sure the way a rebuilding process works is that you build from the inside out, correct? In other words, your team is so crappy that you land an extremely high draft pick, grab your franchise superstar, and build around him. (See: Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.)
What you don't do is take a flyer on a whole bunch of potentially talented, athletic, maybe-not-so-complementary players, plug them into an offense that doesn't fit many of their skills, and pray to God that Carmelo Anthony suddenly decides there's no place he'd rather live than Minnesota.
In his letter to fans, Kahn also calls for the T'Wolves to adapt a faster playing style, despite coach Kurt Rambis' insistence on running a triangle offense.
Isn't the point of the triangle offense to set up in the halfcourt and pass the ball around enough to confound a defense? Wouldn't an up-and-down style of offense defeat the purpose of the triangle?
Kahn doesn't need to worry about such things.
Because we, the NBA media, will gladly continue mockingly reminding him for as long as his reign of terror in Minnesota carries on.