What Exactly is David Khan Getting At?

“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said while meeting with reporters following his team taking second in the Lottery despite having the top odds. “Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.” – Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn

It’s true, there have been some great story lines recently.  Like, as David Kahn can tell you, the son of Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert getting to announce that his fathers team got the number one pick in the NBA draft lottery.  Dan’s son Nick, by the way, suffers from a form of cancer.  So it’s pretty cool that this kid got to announce his team getting the number one overall pick.  By the way, this is the same team that LeBron James ditched last year to play with the Miami Heat.  In case you didn’t hear.  He was pretty low-key about it.  It’s got a very cyclical feeling, the way that the summer after LeBron left, the Cavs get the first pick and get to start over.  The consensus seems to be that they’ll take Kyrie Irving from Duke, or possibly Derrick Williams from Arizona.  As it turns out, they also have the 4th pick, so they could possibly get both.

That’s a great story line though right?  The whole idea of redemption and getting to move on, with even a hint of vengeance.  As I talked about last night, the only problem with this is that Cleveland had the 2nd worst record, and LeBron James story line aside, didn’t deserve that number one pick.  Minnesota did.  Minnesota had the worst record and therefore deserved that pick.  That’s the most fair way to organize a draft.  But my displeasure with the NBA’s draft system is pretty clear.  David Kahn’s comments interest me far more.  Him stopping at the word “habit” is him just making sure Commissioner David Stern doesn’t fine him too hard.  But Kahn is implying a fix.  He’s implying that the NBA would rather have Cleveland pick first because their story is far more interesting, and would therefore generate more interest in the draft, more revenue, etc.

My disinterest in the NBA as a whole has confused many people.  I’ve been told that I “seem like a Basketball guy” and I’ve had to explain my lack of interest as being a product of not having a team and not enjoying the impact of the officiating in Basketball games.  Watching another great NBA story line, the Lakers winning in 7 games over the Celtics only affirmed those beliefs for me.  Particularly the 7th game.  The refereeing in that game made me incredibly mad, because they were “letting the players play” for the first 2 1/2 quarters, and as soon as the Celtics took a big lead, the game was called very tightly, and the Lakers wound up taking more Free Throws in the 4th quarter than the Celtics did the entire game.  So the Lakers pulled out at the very end of a seven game series, at home, against their hated rivals the Celtics, coming back from a huge deficit.  Great story right?  Sure.  But you could make a case that there were shades of foul play.

I think that’s Kahn’s overall point here.  He’s not taking the Tim Donaghy stance, he’s not saying that the league is corrupt and fixed from top to bottom.  He’s saying that there could be shades of foul play here though.   He is saying that the league is willing to fix some things to make the story lines, and more importantly, the revenues, better.  That’s why Stern will fine Kahn for some significant amount of money.  That’s why he fines owners or players who question his officials, but lets them do whatever else they’d like (including: heckle their own players, bring your friends into the locker room, etc), but you just can’t (publicly) question the way things work inside the league.

Am I overreacting to just one comment?  How much do you think the league is fixed, if at all?  Tell me with a comment.

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