Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 4:23 pm  |  44 responses

Links: Ron Ron Will Bark

Plus, Greg Oden’s Beach Vacation!

by Lang Whitaker

I’ve got tons of stories to tell from my trip to Kenya, and I’ll be wheeling them out over the next few weeks. To me, one of the funniest was when we were in Northern Kenya about an hour outside Loisaba, in the middle of nowhere. Wifey and I had spent the afternoon with about a dozen Samburu warriors out walking around the land, tracking wild animals, hiking up hills, stopping to rest next to streams. A couple of them spoke a little English, but they mostly spoke either Swahili or Maa or some combination of the two. These guys had lived their entire lives out in the middle of nowhere, so they were very removed from not just mainstream culture but popular culture as well.

That night at dinner, we were talking about all the exploring we’d done that day and the way these guys lived off the land, and I said to one of them, “It kind of reminds me of this TV show that’s on in America called ‘Man Vs. Wild’…”

And one of the warriors said, “Oh, with Bear Grylls?”

You could have knocked me off my chair with a feather. (Turned out some tourist a few months earlier had shown them the show on his iPod.)

Not to make light of it, but I saw a post on Deadspin earlier about how everyone is referring to Steve McNair as a “warrior.” Pro athletes are tough, sure, and McNair was one of the toughest to ever play QB. But if you want to meet some real, actual warriors, let me know. I’ll give you directions how to get there.

• About an hour before the Draft two weeks ago, word broke that Michael Jackson had passed away. I didn’t really have time to consider it, as I was running to the Garden and then live-blogging the event.

But when I walked out of the Garden at 10 p.m. and stepped onto the corner of 34th and 8th, it seemed like every car on 8th Ave had a different Michael Jackson song on blast. Really an incredible thing to step into.

As a kid, the first album I ever bought with my own money was “Thriller.” I bought the cassette, and then every afternoon I took a small tape player out in my backyard and played that album about 1,000 times as I practiced basketball. That album was the soundtrack to my childhood, and I still listen to it from time to time. (If you can, download the “Thriller” special edition with the Quincy Jones interviews between songs. Not only is Quincy the coolest man who ever lived, but it’s really interesting to hear him talk about how the album came about.)

Anyway, it’s all been said.

RIP, Mike.

• Back to basketball, and I want to keep this simple, but I’ve been meaning to say that the Lakers picking up Ron Artest is, to me, simply awesome. Sure, he’s a little unstable, but he’s nothing Phil Jackson can’t handle, considering PJ once had a power forward who kicked a photographer in the nuts during a game. Ron will have enough strong personalities around him to keep him from doing too much one-on-one on offense, and he’ll give the Lakers the toughness they lacked, maybe the one thing they didn’t have last season. I think this might be better than the Shaq/Cleveland move.

• The Hawks agreed to a new deal with Mike Bibby this morning, and it’s one I can get with: Bibby will make a little under $18 million over the next three years, which not only ensures Bibby is back next season but is also a reasonable enough deal that Bibby should be tradeable down the road once he slows down.

Oh wait…

• After I wrote yesterday about how poorly the L-Wolves have handled the Ricky Rubio situation, Henry Abbott talked to L-Wolves GM David Kahn today and he said some stuff I didn’t get. Including…

What is the state of his buyout?

I don’t know. We’re not running the point on that. It’s really a question for Dan Fegan.

You don’t know? Really? Shouldn’t you know? Isn’t that something that would seem to, like, affect your franchise pretty significantly?

What about the state of relations between the Rubios and the Timberwolves?

The buyout comes first, right? Not too much can happen until that’s taken care of.

What a cop-out. Let’s suppose this: Say the Rubio family had a great relationship with the NBA team that drafted Ricky. Wouldn’t that perhaps give the Rubios some incentive to try and pay the buyout quickly and get over and get started with his NBA career? Or let’s suppose that the Rubio family had no relationship with the team that drafted Ricky. Wouldn’t they then probably be less inclined to try and get out of the buyout? The buyout is important, but your relationship with your player is what should come first.

What about the idea that the buyout is a red herring?

Does $5.7 million seem like no big deal to you? $5.7 million is nothing to sneeze at.

For me, $5.7 million is nothing to sneeze at. But if I’d been playing pro basketball for five years, had endorsement deals with everyone from Nike to McDonald’s (and anyone see Ricky in that Gilette commercial that just started airing?) and had made a good bit of money, $5.7 million is something to sneeze at. Unless your team doesn’t have a relationship with the player, that is.

Finally, my favorite part of the interview…

How’s the coaching search going?

Great. We’re a third of the way through preliminary interviews. There’s no time pressure on this process, so we’re going to take some time.

Right. Because coaches don’t really do anything in the offseason anyway. There’s no coaching staff to build, no scouting to start on, no rotation to think about, no video to watch, no getting to know the players, no shaping of the roster to fit the system, no need to get ingratiated in the community…

Are we sure it’s spelled “Kahn” and not “Con”?

• Finally, why do we keep getting odd pictures of Greg Oden, this time on a beach vacation? At least he looks healthy. Though if he ages any more the Celtics are going to try and sign him.

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    My only beef with Quincy is this quote after the Vibe folding: Quincy Jones, the founder of Vibe, wants to buy back the shuttered magazine and take it online-only “because print and all that stuff is over.”…guess dude doesn’t believe in SLAM.
    As for David Con, well, Lang pretty much wrote my thoughts. This guy is unbelievable.
    Nice work by the Hawks on signing Bibby to a reasonable deal.

  • mookie

    why not sign AI. hawks aren’t going to do anything in the east. at least have a fun team to watch and sell tickets. AI with Josh and Joe running the lanes!!

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    Vibe didn’t promote enough rap beef to stay in business. It’s worked well for XXL and Source.

  • Momma No Like Cold

    Lang, did you see Obama’s brother? His friend Odinga? As to your frisking Kahn on Rubio, what do you expect? Defending Dingus Kahn is not nature for me, but the ball is in Rubio/Fegan’s court. Kahn has no control over the buyout negotiations and probably doesn’t want to speculate about it. As to a relationship with Rubio, Ricky and his family visited Kahn and the Wolves on June 26+. There is a relationship. As to the coach vacancy, Kahn is setting the expectations that he will not be rushed into a bad choice just for the sake of expediency.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    I disagree.

  • Tommy Patron

    Minnesota is a strange thing.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    It would be helpful to address the condescending tone of the initial questions Abbott asked Kahn. “Everyone else tells me you dont know what youre doing and they all want your draft pick.” isn’t going to get you many thoughtful responses. So is it that he actually doesn’t know these things or that he doesnt care to share them with Abbott? And whether the Wolves trade him or not, Rubios incentive would seem to be the same considering that his pay is already set and the sooner he gets that rookie contract over with the better. I doubt his agent is advising him to turn down millions for a contract that pays him peanuts.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    Greg, cave, joke about Greg looking old, you get it.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    lang, did the kenyans tell you about how the lions are disappearing at an alarming rate?

  • Momma No Like Cold

    agree with Myles.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Again, props to Canis Hoopus, a must read Wolves blog….”Antes de la celebración del ‘draft’, los representantes legales del jugador realizaron una oferta de 4 millones de dólares por la libertad de Ricky Rubio, una oferta que fue desestimada por la entidad verdinegra.

    El Joventut, en todo momento, había puesto como condición para negociar con Ricky Rubio, que el jugador retire la demanda presentada contra la entidad verdinegra, al considerar que la cláusula para liberarle de su contrato (4,7 millones de euros), no estaba en consonancia con el sueldo que percibe.

    Sin embargo, el jugador no parece dispuesto a retirarla y ahora debe ser el Joventut quien tome una decisión sobre la oferta presentada.

    According to ADN Deportes Team Rubio will present a $3 mil buyout offer to Joventut.

  • http://www.hoopsvibe.com/spip.php?page=auteurHV&id_auteur=106 chiqo

    slam survives in print possibly because it’s the only worthwhile read of its genre (basketball aimed at a younger audience). if publications like dime magazine were anything better than sh*tty and created competition, things might be different. props for doing what you do much better than anyone else, though. and slam already does quite a bit of online stuff, to the point that you guys could probably make such a switch without hurting too many feelings.

  • Heals

    Lang, THANK YOU! Kahn is joke, I know you’ve seen his resume, how do these goobers get hired in the first place. Yeah I pulled the Goobers card…


    If Brandon Jennings keeps popping up on youtube and JR Smith & Eddy Curry keep vlogging their run ins with highway patrol, Slam will cease to exist.

    And now that Vibe is semi-defunct, why not bring back BLAZE magazine!?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Slam will not go out of style like vibe and king. I really really REALLY miss King mag but I could do without Vibe. Slam just keeps getting better though through the website. I really don’t even read the mag as much as I used to. play wit it.

  • http://nbainchina.com NBA China

    Kahn did sound like an ass..I dont know what Henry’s tone was when asking the questions though.

    But you nailed it on the head with that last point about no urgency for a coach…that was a ridiculous thing to say.

    Does Kahn know that the Timberwolves are a basketball team and not a soccer team where you can just get random players and get a coach to work them in a system like he’s planning?

  • http://mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    I can’t believe no one has pointed out how hot Oden’s girl is. She’s hot. Or maybe it’s just because that big old entity next to her is so ugly, she’s just very pretty in comparison. Well, she’s hot regardless.

  • mat the jazz fan

    great line on oden, and can’t wait for the kenyan stories

    @ lang
    ps i went to that park too…
    did the guides try to pass a wierdly shaped branch ona fallen tree as a leopard in prowl? all laughed when i (albeit uncertainly) decided not to accept that at face value…

  • t2c.wah

    Nice “FrEnglish” play on words!
    Kahn = con… Classic!

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Didn’t knew Oden’s girlfriend is into older men.

  • MattM

    As a Minnesota fan I have to say I’m a little bit disappointed on Kahn’s lack of knowledge with the whole Rubio situation. You would think that the guy who owns his rights would have a little bit more inside info than what we can get online. By the way, does Ricky Rubio even shave?

  • http://mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    I find myself trying to translate Myles’ spanish posts from time to time, even though i have zero knowledge about the language. My Latin classes in high school do help, though.

  • http://mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    did help. obviously, i’m still too old to be in high school.

  • http://mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    too old to still be in high school. Dammit

  • Minneapleseed

    more of the same on Rubio. Why would Kahn tell Henry Abbott the intimate details of the buyout situation when it is in flux and he can’t have any part in the negotiaitons other than to offer up the $500,000 that the NBA says the Wolves can pay?

    You wrote:

    What a cop-out. Let’s suppose this: Say the Rubio family had a great relationship with the NBA team that drafted Ricky. Wouldn’t that perhaps give the Rubios some incentive to try and pay the buyout quickly and get over and get started with his NBA career? Or let’s suppose that the Rubio family had no relationship with the team that drafted Ricky. Wouldn’t they then probably be less inclined to try and get out of the buyout? The buyout is important, but your relationship with your player is what should come first.

    What teams are you “supposing” Rubio and his camp have a solid relationship with? Read the Chad Ford piece http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/draft2009/news/story?id=4241929 from before the draft. Rubio didn’t meet with ANY teams outside of LA, OKC and Sac.

    Do you know for a fact that Rubio hasn’t spoken with the Wolves or that he has no relationship, or are you just reading into Kahn’s short answer and extrapolating a bit?

    I’m still waiting for some real reporting on this situation, like breaking down FIBA rules and how it relates to the matter or what the NBA CBA says on where potential buyout can come from or how the payments can be structured.

    Does anyone have any thing substantive to add to the story, or are all the reporters content to rehash and recycle the stories from the previous days?


    Lang did you go/stay in nairobi? or did you visit the rural areas only?……dp by saying you rarely read the actual mag anymore you are actually doing a diservice to the website. peoples lack of understanding of the mag/media world is stunning to me…i don’t have any remarks pertaining to steve mcnair except that he was a great player and an important part of the lineage of black qb’s. rip…..also, michael jackson was the alpha and the omega of the entertainment world. respect it.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Good stuff, Kha. I really dug Air McNair.

  • museum

    My god the national media’s take on the Rubio situation is embarrassing. Do you all get together to huff paint for an hour before writing? I’m assuming you must. All I can say is thank God that Kahn is running the Wolves and not you drooling melons. I know you’re busy making stuff up about what’s going on in Rubio’s head, but while you were compiling zingers about the Wolves not having a relationship with Ricky, you forgot to include the part where Kahn says “you’re assuming he hasn’t come to visit.” You’re assuming a lot, actually, but saying they don’t have a relationship is one of the more bizarre pieces of misinformation you and your paint-huffing friends have printed on leaflets and dropped from helicopters on the illiterate peasants of the valley. To make a long story short, this is an extremely complicated negotiation and maybe, just maybe, you should look beyond what the guy says in a crap interview. That’s right, Abbott’s initial confrontational questions were worded in a way that wouldn’t get anything but one sentence non-answers, and he should’ve done better.

    Please start doing a better job.

  • http://www.alloutblitz.com Cordeazy

    nice to see Oden taking responsibility for his daughter

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    Lang just got back, maybe he’s not in 100% work mode or has been following Rubio’s situation with Minny 24/7 either, since that would be a junky way to spend time in Kenya. Please start doing a better job sounds harmless enough though even after that spout of common put downers which were meant otherwise, but darned if it wouldn’t have been better if it said, go back on vacation! And Lang’s not just national media, but international. He doesn’t fake the funk.

  • Krishan

    He sues Juventut, and says he has no intentions of dropping it until they renege to his proposed buyout. So if he’s not interested in playing in the NBA, who else is he going to play for this year?

  • bike

    Greg’s girlfriend looks a lot younger than him.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Khalid, we spent about a day total in Nairobi — flew in, spent an afternoon driving around and seeing the city with a guy we know who lives there, then flew back out, and then when we left we did the same thing. Interesting city and smaller than I thought (the pop. is something like 2 mil).

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    Oden needs to shave more often, he only looks 40 like that

  • museum

    Maybe I flamed Mr. Whitaker a bit hard, but – 1. it’s the internet, throwing rotten tomatoes at people who are paid to write on it is tradition for people who aren’t paid to write on it 2. it was early, i was grumpy, and you have to understand something – us wolves fans are REALLY sick of hearing what we perceive as utter nonsense coming from journalists in NYC and wherever else. REALLY sick of it. we firmly believe that they don’t have a grasp on the situation. i’m frankly 100% positive that they don’t. 3. if you’re a professional writer, you need to have a firm grasp on it before publishing, being on vacation in africa, and therefore out of the loop is not an excuse.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @museum: I didn’t think you “flamed” me too hard, if at all. You’re allowed to have your own opinion. I get that and I’m fine with it and I’m a big boy — you didn’t hurt my feelings. Besides, I’m right.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com/ RV

    museum, so were you in the loop when they decided to draft three point guards? You should have told us, we had no idea..

  • museum

    Lang, I am the one who is right. I surely respect you, sir, but you can take my word for it. Just be sure to credit me in your next column.

    RV, it was 4 PG’s actually, two of whom were traded. But the only way I would’ve done it differently is if we could’ve gotten something good in a trade for the sixth. I prefer Flynn to Curry and there was no one else worth taking. Having Rubio and Flynn doesn’t bother me at all, our odds of coming out on top are great. Maybe we keep them both, maybe we don’t, but we’re better off for not having attempted to build a traditional roster in the lottery when the right guys weren’t there.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    Professional Publishing Linkstigating from now on, Lang. Stop goofing off. That’s not what the Links is about! Surely museum, when he says its his L-Wolves, that L – means simply Lang-Wolves.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Timberwolves Fans: Where Rationalization Happens.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I’ve decided that Steve Kerr is officially the worst GM in the NBA regardless of what this timberwolves fellow is mucking around with…

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Khalid, DP never said he didnt’t BUY the mag though. Probably still reads the core segments, just not as much of the HS type stuff. That’s all.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Bizzle

    Joel O’s On point. Who does the Con man think he’s fooling?

  • JD

    Another Twolves fan here. You make it seem like Kahn has a laissez faire attitude, when in fact he wants to be thorough. In an interview with Dan Patrick after the draft he stressed that they have to get this right and will take all the time necessary.

    Also the be all and end all of the Rubio situation is the buyout, nothing to do with him not wanting to play with the Twolves or this cold weather silliness.