May 18, 2011, 2:46 AM EDT
What can get you in more trouble with David Stern than saying his referees are biased?
Saying the NBA Draft Lottery is fixed.
Which is pretty much what Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn did after the lottery (where his team with the worst record fell to the No. 2 spot). Cleveland won the top spot. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert had sent as a team representative his 14-year-old son Nick, who is battling Neurofibromatosis, a disease that causes the body’s nerves to grow potentially cancerous tumors.
“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said. “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.”
Kahn might as well get the checkbook out now. And for the record, saying widows and sick children who had to undergo chemotherapy get all the luck is just pretty stupid.
For the record, the league has gone to great lengths over the years to make this process as transparent as possible. Every team — including the Timberwolves — has a representative in the room watching the Keno machine (or whatever they wish to call it) pull out ping-pong balls. There are 14 balls, leading to 1,001 number combinations and those are assigned to teams based on percentages (Kahn and Minnesota had a 25 percent chance of winning, so they had 250 number combinations).
All of that to fight the perception that the draft lottery is fixed.
But the stigma of lottery fixes — going back to Patrick Ewing and the “frozen envelope theory” — remains with a lot of fans and will not shake easily. Kahn just reinforced it. And somebody is going to pay for that.