This is an article from the Aug. 24, 2009 issue
NEW TIMBERWOLVES COACH
Long the presumed heir to Phil Jackson in Los Angeles, the former bespectacled Lakers forward signed a four-year deal with Minnesota
Dan Patrick: How tough was the decision to leave L.A.?
Kurt Rambis: When I looked at the pros and cons of coming to Minnesota, there were a lot more pros than cons. There's an upside to this organization, and they gave me a contract that would allow me the time to build. We're going to take our lumps early, but we feel very confident that we can add the pieces. And I know the Lakers want Phil to coach as long as he wants, whether it's one year or six. You just don't know how long he's going to be there.
DP: Did you want Phil to say, "Stay here. I'm only going to coach a little while longer, and then you take over"?
KR: I don't think that's what I wanted to hear, and I don't think he could have made that promise. I do not believe that [Lakers owner] Jerry Buss has somebody in mind beyond Phil Jackson.
DP: How close did you come to taking the Sacramento job earlier this summer?
KR: They have very nice owners, and I love Geoff Petrie, the general manager there, but it just wasn't the right opportunity. They're in a fairly similar situation to Minnesota, but Minnesota made a long-term commitment and gave me a nice four-year contract, so I'm going to have the time to do the things I want. Sacramento was not willing to commit to that length of time.
DP: I just looked at the roster on the Timberwolves' website. Ricky Rubio is on it. Your name is not. Is that contract signed?
KR: [Laughs.] My contract is signed. We're still working on Ricky Rubio.
DP: Give me an update. I have a bet with your president, David Kahn, that Rubio is not going to be playing for you anytime soon.
KR: He wants to come here. The trouble is dealing with [Rubio's Spanish team, Joventut] and the buyout they're demanding. The contract Ricky signed last year was probably ill-advised. There's only so much this organization can contribute to the buyout—half a million dollars. So Ricky and his representatives are going to have to come up with the rest of it, and right now they don't have the funds.
DP: How about a telethon?
KR: Can I put you on hold and call David Kahn? [Laughs.]
DP: Would you have drafted him?
KR: That's an unfair question. Being involved in the NBA season, I just don't have the time to follow college or European players.
DP: I thought Steph Curry made more sense for you guys.
KR: [Rubio] has a tremendous flair for the game, court vision and a passion about playing. He's got an awful lot to learn when it comes to this level. We feel he's going to be terrific at some point.
DP: Do you have a winter coat?
KR: I have a winter coat for Los Angeles, but it's not a winter coat for [Minnesota].
DP: On your first day of practice you should make your guys wear those Lakers short shorts, just to let them know what it was like when the NBA was full of men.
KR: Remember that '80s Day with the Lakers and the Celtics a couple of seasons ago?
DP: That wasn't pretty.
KR: No, and the players were so self-conscious that in the second half they all changed back to long shorts. They just couldn't deal with it—and they played much better in the second half.
When he wasn't cracking jokes, guest Chris Rock had a serious take on the Michael Vick situation. Rock, who hunted deer and quail as a child with his grandfather in South Carolina, doesn't condone Vick's dogfighting past, but believes he's the victim of a double standard. "[The NFL] doesn't care about animals," said Rock. "The balls are made of pigskin. The sneakers are made from leather. There are dead animals everywhere."
USC's Pete Carroll admitted that he could have a QB controversy on his hands. Redshirt sophomore Aaron Corp looked to be the starter, but a minor knee injury opened the door for freshman Matt Barkley, who Carroll says has played like a prodigy: "He comes in like a gifted kid comes into a classroom, like a piano player that has this natural talent for playing."
Line of the week
Mike Tyson lamented that boxing has lost its luster: "There are no stars in the heavyweight division. [WBC champ Vitali Klitschko] is a great fighter but he's not exciting, he's not a superstar. You don't draw the people like that. When you're the heavyweight champ of the world, the whole world should know who you are."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. James Brown on his 60 Minutes interview with Michael Vick.
2. Ashton Kutcher discusses his love for the Chicago Bears.
THE FINE PRINT: Brett Myers gave the Phillies two completely different stories about an eye injury that caused him to miss a rehab start. So, his changeup is working.