Remembering Rambis: Some High (But Mostly Low) Lights of the Kurt and Kahn Era

Kurt_Rambis

Andy G: So Kurt Rambis is somehow coaching an NBA team again, and that team plays at Target Center tonight. Knicks vs. Wolves. It’s natural to use this chance to look back on his time in ‘Sota. Kurt’s first Wolves team won 15 games. His second Wolves team won 17 games. I’d imagine no franchise in league history has gone consecutive seasons without winning even 18 games, but I don’t know that for sure.

Let’s cut to the chase: What was your favorite “lowlight” of the Rambis Era? (Eds note: Should we really be calling this the “Kahnbis” Era?Was it starting Darko and Ryan Hollins over Kevin Love for much of the 2009-10 season? Because that one is pretty hilarious especially if — like us — you’re not a K-Love fan.

Patrick J: My favorite lowlight of the Kahnbis era was what it did for the self-loathing crowd, writ large, which makes up much of the (hardcore) Timberwolves fan base. (Eds. Note: You know who you are, guys, it’s okay.) So let’s drill down: There were two big moments for me. First, the Kahn molecule fused with the Rambis one to create Kahnbis. That is, David Kahn got to have a large say in a big decision that shaped subsequent years of the franchise’s prospects. We know how it turned out. Still, if you’re Vegas, you love David Kahn The Gambler. Second, Kahnbis criminally shat on Kevin Love when the majority of the fan base could see that we had something in Love. It did nothing to humble Love – and it probably emboldened him – but it was entertaining in that je ne sais quois shadenfreude way. (Eds. Note: Insert other passive aggressive foreign words here.) The memory that stands out is Rambis taking perhaps the worst possible paternalistic to Love, which was one part dismissive and another part passive-aggressive. As much as I dislike Kevin Love – not because I don’t respect his skills, but because of most everything else – would it have been possible to treat him worse? And what should we think more of Love for becoming what he is – as imperfect as that is – in spite of the “coaching” Kurt gave him?

Andy G: I think that ‘09-10 team was my least favorite Timberwolves team ever. Think about the top minutes leaders (in order): 1) Corey Brewer; 2) Al Jefferson (the stank-leg, recovering-from-ACL-surgery-at-a-leisurely-pace version); 3) Jonny Flynn; 4) Ryan Gomes; 5) Ramon Sessions; 6) Kevin Love (the chubbier version that was effective, but much less fun to watch than his later, remodeled self). Aside from Brew’s admittedly-endearing drunken dribbling, and Big Al’s footwork, there isn’t anything remotely fun to watch in that core of players. Flynn was terrible. Gomes was a role player’s role player. Sessions was adequate but never exciting. Love was an efficient rebounder who drew some fouls. They only won 15 games. Not sure what else to say.

Here’s a funny Rambis memory (fast forward to 1:15 for the good stuff). 

Patrick J: KURT RAMBIS DARKO MILICIC KEN MAUER OH MY! (Eds. Note: “Yes, awesome.” Don’t skimp, the video is well worth your time.)

So, the 2009-10 team was truly weird. Need a refresher? I did too. No one was watching, and to the extent they were, if they’re still among us, they’ve managed to block that season out of their memory. I don’t know if the Wounded Warrior Foundation covers the PTSD that we serious fans endured that year. So here’s what it looked like, nuts and bolts:

Snip20160220_3

BRIAN CARDINAL!

Seriously, that was a terrifyingly bad roster. (Eds. Note: Punch-Drunk Wolves unconditionally supports JB Bickerstaff, Bill Laimbeer (!), and…wait for it!..REGGIE THEUS! (!))

How did Kahnbis assemble such a cool assistant coaching staff and manage to put out such a shitty product?

Andy G: It behooves us to talk a little bit about Michael Beasley here, because in Season 2 of Kahnbis, Supercool Beas played a prominent role. He averaged career highs in points per game (19.2) and assists (2.2). He scored over 30 points in 8 games that year. Beasley was given the Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant role in the triangle offense (!). That’s equal parts amazing and depressing.

The Wolves only won 17 games that year.

Answer me these questions:

  1. Are you glad that we got to watch that Season of Beas?
  2. Is there any Timberwolf right now, in this new stage of rebuilding, that reminds you of Beasley – in terms of aggregate production that maybe, uh, doesn’t, um, lead to winning?

Patrick J: Am I glad that we got to see the Season of Beas? To paraphrase the legendary Canis Hoopus and cocaineblunts.com contributor MAYNHOLUP! (Eds. Note: Much respect.), “U alreddy kno”. I’m an unforgiving (or is it unforgivable?) Michael Beasley fan, supporter, and sympathizer. He basically had one good year as a pro. It was under Kurt Rambis. These things are probably orthogonal. I don’t care. That was a sneaky cool year.

On your second question, umm….(Eds. Note: The elephant just entered the room…)…Zach LaVine has the kind of talent that is stupid in a good way and a bad one. La Vine has the kind of pure talent that Beasley did. Beasley was a great college player and La Vine was not, but that’s pretty much beside the point here. The point is that LaVine might have the “pure talent, fatal flaw” (Above the Rim voice) that Beasley did. The key point being that both were/are supremely talented and that both have a below average basketball IQ. One difference is that Michael Beasley had “medicinal” issues (J-Rose voice, I guess) that we have absolutely no reason to believe LaVine might have. (Eds. Note: If you’re still reading this, Super Cool’s issues needn’t be explained to you.) But can Smitch mold LaVine into the kind of player we wish Rambis could’ve turned Skittles Beasley into?

Andy G: On your LaVine/Beasley comparison, I think this photo that Beas literally just tweeted from China is worth sharing:

Snip20160220_5

 

Patrick J: Got it.

So…big picture: what do you really miss about the Kahnbis Era?

Andy G: I guess the thing I miss most about the Kahnbis Era — and it’s a small one, but everything helps in these crappy seasons — is the absurdly wild homerun swings on high-upside guys, particularly in trade-deadline acquisitions. Do you realize that on consecutive trade deadlines, David Kahn traded for Darko Milicic and Anthony Randolph??? And do you remember how much more fun it was to watch a league-worst team test drive those 7 footers in March and April, instead of grinding out 12-point losses with the likes of Damien Wilkins and Ryan Gomes setting good screens and boxing out?

If my team is going to be awful — and unfortunately, it is more often than not — I at least want some enigmas to watch and enjoy. And Kahnbis seemed to agree.

But yeah, the losing over 80 percent of games thing gets old and Rick Adelman taking over in 2011 was the most refreshing Minnesota coaching chance I can ever remember.  Hopefully the Wolves org can get a small bit of revenge on Rambis in tonight’s game.

Patrick J: No further questions.

BIG PICTURE QUESTION!: What if anything do you really miss about the Kahnbis Era?

Andy G: I guess the thing I miss most about the Kahnbis Era — and it’s a small one, but everything helps in these crappy seasons — is the absurdly wild homerun swings on high-upside guys, particularly in trade-deadline acquisitions. Do you realize that on consecutive trade deadlines, David Kahn traded for Darko Milicic and Anthony Randolph??? And do you remember how much more fun it was to watch a league-worst team test drive those 7 footers in March and April, instead of grinding out 12-point losses with the likes of Damien Wilkins and Ryan Gomes setting good screens and boxing out?

If my team is going to be awful — and unfortunately, it is more often than not — I at least want some enigmas to watch and enjoy. And Kahnbis seemed to agree.

But yeah, the losing over 80 percent of games thing gets old and Rick Adelman taking over in 2011 was the most refreshing Minnesota coaching chance I can ever remember.

Hopefully the Wolves org can get a small bit of Rambis Revenge in tonight’s game.

Until then, here’s something to pregame to.

Until next time.

 

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