Changing of the guard with the T-Wolves



Flip Saunders’ good calculations will replace David Kahn’s poor ones


ThroughMyEyesnewBecause of my November 7, 2012 column (“The smartest White team in the NBA: T-Wolves team return to the 1950s?”), we took heat from those who took exception with our prediction that there would be a “day of reckoning” (being fired) if David Kahn’s “smartest White team” strategy didn’t result in at least 45 wins (it was disastrous; they won only 31).

As I wrote in that November 7 column: “Play the best players, whether all White, all Black or a combination. To have the best game possible, Commissioner Stern has insisted on ‘color blind’ drafting/signing. So why not the Timberwolves?” Thus, get the fans “the best players playing so their teams have the best chance to win. It is quite clear that owner Glenn Taylor is of the same mind set.”

My prediction was the fruit of my being a life-long sports analyst/journalist/fan with a deep sense of the game’s history. Kahn’s great sin: compromising Glenn Taylor’s dreams. Kahn didn’t get it that it isn’t about race or money; it’s about winning, it’s about Taylor’s passion in his love for the game, the fans and his team. For Taylor it is not about making money; he has money. It’s to win. It’s to get rings.

In reaching back to Flip Saunders, Taylor overcomes his admitted mistake in firing Flip in 2005, the one who brought the team its greatest successes. Flip knows the game. Flip understands talent. Flip has personal roots here in Minnesota. I’ve known Flip since he first came to town. I know Flip can again lead the Timberwolves organization to success.

One of the most important features of franchise success is being able to evaluate available talent. Flip Saunders will display the kind of knowledge and intellect needed on NBA Draft Day. Flip is the best combination of being highly confident but not arrogant about it. Consequently, there will be a greater degree of harmony within the organization that will resonate harmony from ball boys and girls to trainers, to assistant coaches, to the coach, general manager, and as Flip said in the press conference officially introducing him, the most important key to harmony: keep owner Glenn Taylor happy, break the proverbial jinx, and win.

Clearly, working closely with the owner and the other integral parts of the franchise, Flip will bring back the level of respect that the Timberwolves organization deserves.

My November 7, 2012 column was not personal, only a concern for the future of this historic and once respected franchise. We Minnesotans reserve the right to speak out and to give our point of view. Some tend not to understand that doctrine, and some tend to cloud that doctrine by falsely assuming not all of us bleed red, white and blue.

David Kahn never understood the history of professional basketball in Minnesota. He didn’t understand the giants of the game here: George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mickelson, and Elgin Baylor.

Kahn didn’t understand the sacrifices of the first Lakers team owners (Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen) who purchased the Detroit Gems in 1947 and brought them to Minnesota as the Minneapolis Lakers, which was helped by Sid Hartman and General Manager Max Winter; Max later brought the Vikings to Minnesota. Nor did Kahn understand the sacrifices of T-Wolves’ first owners, Marv Wolfenson and Harv Ratner, who brought back professional basketball to Minnesota in 1989, after a 29-year absence.

Kahn didn’t understand the enthusiasm when over 1,000,000 attended games at the Metrodome the first year before the opening of the Target Center for season two. He didn’t understand the history of the enthusiastic years of a young Kevin Garnett and a young Flip Saunders, a great player and a great coach, how both enjoyed and respected the game. Flip has great respect for the basketball knowledge of Minnesota fans.

And don’t forget the Lynx. I would be remiss in not reminding people of the support that owner Glenn Taylor has given to our own Minnesota professional women’s team. Glenn supported the WNBA during the lean years, and that wasn’t too long ago.

I remember listening as a little boy to the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1940’s (before games were on TV) and I was there in the mid-1950’s as George Mikan was wrapping up his great career, and I can fondly remember the talents of future hall of famer from the University of Seattle, Elgin Baylor. I know Sid Hartman remembers those great basketball games.

Recall how devastated we were when the Lakers left to relocate to Los Angeles, California when an arena could not be worked out (which is why the NHL team, the North Stars, moved). It always costs more to get a new team. See Star Tribune writer George Mikan’s 2000 book, covering 50 years of stadium games, where state legislators and city councilpersons made poor decisions at the expense of fans.

The jinx that some talk about has not always been present in professional basketball in Minnesota, and I just feel that Glenn and Flip and the young talent of the future, will end the jinx and bring winning professional basketball back to Minnesota.

Stay tuned for a bright Timberwolves future.


Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at Columns are archived at chives.htm.


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