Archives For Chris Webber

Photo by Kris Krug

When we last left our early-millenial Wolves, their hearts had been broken in Los Angeles. It was now May of 2004, just over a year later and a whole lot has changed. Rasho, Kendall Gill, Rod Strickland and Anthony Peeler had all blessedly moved on, replaced by Sam Cassell, Professor Sprewell, Trenton Hassell and Ervin Johnson. Wally Szczerbiak and Troy Hudson had both missed significant portions of the season with injury. The team was still potent offensively, but with the addition of those veteran scorers their attack was craftier, more deliberate, and better balanced.

But the team’s real improvement was defensive, where they improved from 88 points allowed per 100 possessions in ’02/’03 to 84.2 the next year. Hassell’s manic on-ball D, Johnson’s stoic rim protection and even Spree’s boundless energy all had a galvanizing effect on the team’s defensive culture and particularly on their star. Because that year, KG was on a different plane of existence. He led the league in PER, win share and defensive rebound rate (he was third in overall rebound rate). Ron Artest was the official Defensive POY that season (please), but defensively KG was out of his effing mind. He was, rightfully, the league’s MVP. As a result of all of this, the Wolves had the league’s second best record (behind the Pacers of all teams–bet you’d forgotten that) with 58 wins and earned home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.

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David Kahn Gets Loose

Benjamin Polk —  July 25, 2010 — 20 Comments

Photo by Genvessel

So it turns out that David Kahn is not the scheming, Gekko-esque bromide-dispenser that he seemed to be. Despite appearances, and despite his frequent references to league-enforced propriety, Kahn seems to be pretty innocent of the politic non-speak that vibrates throughout most NBA front offices.¬† In a way, its disarming and refreshing to hear an NBA executive speak so openly and common-sensibly about things. Derrick Favors is out of shape? Sure looked like it to me. Michael Beasley is immature? Not really controversial. Chris Webber is “a schmuck”? Don’t hold back, dawg!

Then there’s tidbit on Beasley from Kahn’s now infamous KFAN interview:

He is growing up — he’s not grown-up. He’s 21 … and if you think back, as I do all the time, to when I was 21, and if you had given me this kind of money and put me in this kind of world with these kinds of pressures attached to it and some of the demands, I don’t know how well I would have handled it, any easier than, say, he has.

For the GM of an NBA team, this strikes me as totally reasonable, and maybe even a bit compassionate. But, of course, those aren’t the “inapropriate comments” that got Kahn and the Wolves fined $100 grand by the league. These are:

[Beasley] is a very young and immature kid who smoked too much marijuana and has told me that he’s not smoking anymore, and I told him that I would trust him as long as that was the case.

Again, not your typical NBA front-office sound-byte, right? On one hand, you’ve gotta love the honesty. And the league’s fairly heavy penalty is fairly consistent with their schoolmarmish pandering to white, conservative, NBA-skeptical middle America (wherever that is) and whomever else might be both a fan of basketball and terrified at the possibility that some people smoke drugs.

On the other hand, if your employer ever talked about your drug use on the radio (which drug use was admitted to in a presumably private conversation), wouldn’t you kind of freak out? One has to wonder, not necessarily at the accuracy, but at the wisdom of, say, questioning the fitness of a prospective first-round draft pick. Or musing aloud upon the schmuckiness of a recently retired, heavily respected NBA legend. Or making it known that the extremely personal contents of private conversations with your players are not, after all, so private. I mean, is this someone you would want to work for?