By Jerry Zgoda
Like you, new Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn has been reading this blog as the team’s search for a new guy to replace Kevin McHale progressed. He asked me to pass along this note he wrote last night before today’s noon press conference that will introduce him.
To Wolves Fans Everywhere:
I love your passion.
I know you want to be proud of this team.
And I know, most of all, you want to win.
I plan on spending the next several years of my life with those same objectives in mind – namely, making this a championship-contending team. I can’t promise perfection, but I can promise that nobody will outwork or outthink us as we build what I hope will be among the best front offices in the league and a team that begins a climb to the top.
We have a couple significant pieces on the team already, and a lot of flexibility (as much as any team in the league), so now it’s time to deliver. Starting this summer, and through the following summer, I expect to start accumulating more talent through every available means – the draft, free agency and trades. I expect a lot of myself, and I will expect everybody in basketball operations to work relentlessly alongside me.
I’m a lawyer, journalist, entrepreneur and more, but at my core I’m a basketball person — a former General Manager with day-to-day oversight of basketball operations for a perennial playoff team, working under one of the finest persons in the sport, Donnie Walsh. My relationships in all my previous endeavors are basketball-oriented. I have spent 24 years in, or on the periphery, of the NBA and have done everything from make trades to sign players to identify and hire coaches. I’ve served for three years on the NBA Competition Committee, which includes only the highest-ranking basketball persons.
I know some of you have worried here that I’ve been “away” for about five years, since I left the Pacers in 2004, about four months before the infamous brawl. Not to worry. My company owned four NBA D-League teams the last four years, and that meant seeing a ton of players in person who are now rotation players in our league. It meant hiring nine coaches, from Sam Vincent to Quin Snyder to Michael Cooper to Jay Humphries. It meant constantly working on coach and player matters. So, I really never left.
That doesn’t mean I’m as ready today as I will be on June 25 for the draft. The current staff will stay in place through at least July to help prepare for this draft and for free agency. I told each staffer Wednesday night, when I spoke to them on the phone, that I’m looking forward to watching them work, in this new environment, these next five weeks. This is the best time of year for us – it was always the highlight of my year with the Pacers.
When I went to law school, I never intended to practice law. I did it to become an NBA front-office person in basketball. My time in Indiana prepared me for this moment – Donnie Walsh allowed me the freedom to work in all areas of the franchise. I managed the cap, talked to Donnie every day about trades and player personnel, and then sometimes made the trades with his approval.
You may have also heard that Donnie allowed me to be the team’s point person for the design, development and marketing of Conseco Fieldhouse. To this day, most NBA persons consider the fieldhouse the finest arena ever built. I helped lead a team of people who were driven to deliver a product that was second to none. We worked 24/7 to make that building like none other in the world.
The Timberwolves now become my latest project. As with Conseco Fieldhouse, there will be no settling for run-of-the-mill, or even second best. I’m interested only in special.
I look forward to winning you over during the days, weeks and months ahead.