Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 9:00 am  |  91 responses

David Kahn Thinks the NBA Draft Lottery is Rigged

by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

With a less than remarkable NBA Draft class at hand, reps for bad teams were already on edge last night at the Lottery, which meant the potential for hilarity was off the charts.

And as always, Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn came through. After the L-Wolves nabbed the second overall pick, Kahn opened up to the media about his theories regarding how the Draft Lottery process truly works.

According to Kahn, it’s not as random as you may think. From the AP and Star Tribune:

ESPN took a commercial break at that point while they assembled representatives of the three remaining teams center stage. That meant Kahn stepped forth. So did Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor. And so did Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s bespectacled, bow-tied 14-year-old son, Nick, who is afflicted with a rare neurological disease.

“I did tell Kevin O’Connor when the three of us were asked to stand up on that little elevated stage, as soon as the 14 year old joined us, we were toast,” Kahn said. “There was no way the 14 year old was about to be denied in a league that has a habit of compelling storylines.”

Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn said he knew Minnesota was “dead” when it got down to the final three of himself, Utah executive Kevin O’Connor and Nick Gilbert, the son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who was born with neurofibromatosis. “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, who has a long and amazing history of putting his foot in his mouth, can expect to receive a not-so-pleasant call from the League office this week.

Here’s to hoping the Timberwolves don’t fire David Kahn anytime soon; he’s far too entertaining to be kicked out of the NBA.

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  • mike

    He’s right, though. LeBron to Cleveland. Rose to Chicago. Come on now…

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford


  • JayChau

    Let me know when the article that starts with “David Kahn has been fined by the NBA…” is posted on Slamonline.

  • Riggs

    but i aint do anything

  • 2dope

    Don’t worry David, they’ll be plenty of point gaurds on the board at #2.

  • J.C.

    Send Spree to represent you next year and see where you end up.

  • Jer dawg

    He shouldn’t be mad. If they need another point guard they are readily available. Knight, Fredette, Walker. They all have moxie. Not just Irving. Fredette’s got the Minnesota look and feel. Fans will like him. Walker Is just a mini Iverson scoring machine. Knight looks to be more physically gifted than all other point guards In this class and he is clutch as seen during his run in NCAA tourney. Made it farther as a freshman than Irving. Only thing separating knight and Walker from winning championship was extra 2 years experience. He would’ve drafted another point guard anyway and looked just as dumb as he did drafting Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn.

  • EtheKnickfan


  • Rasheedionics

    No JC… Spree’s children.. They gotta eat!

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Sometimes Kahn, you just need to accept that you are, in fact, a loser.

  • AT33

    Kahn is gay. #justsaying

  • Myung

    Ewing in 1985 to NY in the first year of the Lottery (Stern’s favorite team: NYK). Orlando getting the #1 pick in 1993 a year after getting Shaq in 1992 (with the lowest odds of any team in the lottery to get #1, at a 1.5% chance), allowing them to draft and trade CWebb for Penny. San Antonio getting Duncan (to team up with the Admiral) after having the 3rd worst record in the NBA in 1997. Bron going to his home state team in 2003. Rose going to his home state team in 2008 when the Bulls had a 1.7% chance of getting #1. And like Kahn mentioned, Pollin (RIP) last year and Gilbert’s kid this year. A compelling conspiracy case can certainly be made. That being said, conspiracies had nothing to do with 2009, when he passed on Steph, Jennings, Teague, Lawson, Holiday, Maynor, and Beaubois. Don’t play the blame game, Kahn. Just make better picks.

  • EtheKnickfan

    Sterns fave team is Chicago

  • EtheKnickfan

    @AT33 “Kahn is gay. #justsaying” You owe me coffee dude u made me spill mine with that one.

  • http://www.walshsportsblog.com Darren

    This is taken a bit out of context isnt it? Seemed like a joke to me.

  • http://POsterous BOko

    Cavs suck

  • Shadojoker

    KAHN = Entertainment!! Do NOT fire this man!!

  • http://www.iowsports.com/ Blue

    Well now…at least we know who was actually TRYING to tank last season.

  • SylvioMac

    U MAD?

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 DFrance21

    Yeah Kahn sucks at drafting people, but lets not act like the lottery isn’t suspect. How convenient is it that the Cavs got the top pick when LeBron was in the draft, same thing with Rose? How convenient that the summer after they got burned by LeBron, they end up winning the lottery? The jig is up!

  • http://bulls.com airs

    ha, no lie i thought the same thing kahn did when i saw gilbert’s kid up there, like of course this kid’s gonna win.
    but who can resist a feel good story, right.

  • T-Money

    1- watch the vido, very tongue-in-cheek. 2- anyone who thinks the draft is rigged is a moron.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Lol. 1) Don’t stop being you Mr. Kahn. 2) If they get Rubio then they don’t even need Irving.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Shout out to the Illuminati.

  • Monstarzz

    He was joking. but funny stuff.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Then I guess I’m a moron then.

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    ^Me too…

  • the truth

    Anyone who would make the assumption that the video proves it’s not rigged is a moron. And count me as and most people on here as being morons according to you

  • Myung

    Me three (you were talking about the lottery and not the actual DRAFT, right, T-Money?). Why don’t they at least just let us see the balls being picked (like in real lottery drawings)? And who’s to say the envelopes don’t get mixed up (human error or “error”)?

  • Myung

    (the truth beat me to it… I guess Me Four).

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Kevin Garnet to David Kahn “You’re a neurofibromatosis to your team and the league”…

  • matt

    Kahn is right. My raps get screwed over like always. Don’t know why cleveland gets that pick, they had their chance – they had the best player in the world play for that team for 7 years, they wen to the finals, constantly first, EC champs. Minnesota – this team should turn some of their assets in2 better players (trade them) – I think they could give up some depth and seriously get some1 like JSmoove or Bynum. Jazz have been to the finals twice + had a legendary coach. I fail to see how my raps don’t deserve 1st. No one wants to come here, we have the best country in the world, best city in the world, 4th largest city in N.America. When we get good picks they are in horrible drafts. Leonard = James Johnson, Knight + Kemba = Bayless. AKA we have to take Valanciunas (contract problems) or Biyombo (next big ben :) )

  • http://slamonline Brion

    Who didnt guess that the Cavs were gonna win it when that kid went up there? Also @ EtheNickfan someone calling a dude gay makes you spit up your coffee? are u that easliy amused?

  • neaorin

    ABJCavsInsider: Wanna get greedy? #Cavs were “thisclose” to top 2 picks. Balls for #2 pick came out 9-5-7-1. One of Cavs’ 199 combinations was 9-5-7-2.

  • Myung

    The lottery is one thing (conspiracy theorists unite); the draft is completely on the team to make the best of their position. No one forced you guys to take Camby over Kobe in 1996, Aleksandar Radojević in 1999, Michael Bradley in 2001, Rafael Araujo in 2004, or Bargnani over Aldridge in 2006. But take heart, Matt. I’m a Hawks fan. i don’t think any team can beat our front office in terms of drafting poorly. If bad drafts were rings, we’d be a dynasty.

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    Myung, Dont forget about Joey Graham before Danny Granger.

  • http://www.boogiewilliams.com Boing Dynasty

    But that Sheldon Williams/Marvin Williams sandwich that ATL had to eat was pretty aweful too.

  • http://360special.blogspot.com dev0

    The lottery system is as abstracted as it could be. Ping-pong balls, combinations of numbers, secret envelopes. Makes one think if it really is random, and every year there are conspiracy theories (see 1985, Ewing). Kahn and the Wolves were predicted to finish second in the draft-order, and just because he’s not living in a fairytale world of his dreams, does not mean everybody else is. He needs to shut up about rigging the process, he obviously didn’t deserve to move up in the draft.

  • http://slamonline Brion

    Did they televize the actual part of drawing the ball out of the machine?

  • Myung

    I just went to the Wikipedia page for “Atlanta Hawks draft history” (I don’t think I can post the link here). My eyes started to bleed. And then I cried. And then I cried some more. Seriously, I dare a fan of any team to find a more pathetic list of players than what you see on that page. It’s particularly bad because 1. You have to remember how bad the Hawks were from 1999 to 2007, meaning we had high lottery picks 2. Pau Gasol and Jason Terry are 2 of our 4 best picks (the other two being Josh Smith and Al Horford) of the past 35 (THIRTY FIVE YEARS?!?!) years , and Gasol never suited up for us (draft night trade for Shareef) and JET was traded in a salary dump (we got rid of Alan Henderon’s terrible contract in the trade) years ago. We didn’t draft Dominique. The only other guys in the past 35 years worth mentioning are Tree Rollins, Doc Rivers, Stacey Augmon, Boris Diaw, Josh Childress, and Jeff Teague. I also found out that we drafted Arvydas Sabonis in 1985, but he obviously never played for us. I was a business major in college and never was a superstar in basketball, but I’m 10000000% positive I could do a better job of drafting than our franchise has done during my lifetime (I’m 33 years old).

  • http://Philosophervision@blogspot.com The Philosopher

    Shout out to Travis Mays.

  • Myung

    Mays wasn’t drafted by the Hawks, but he’s retroactively one of my favorite Hawks (along with Royal Ivey) because my wife went to the University of Texas. Too bad both Mays and Ivey sucked/suck as pro’s.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Eboy

    I find the best part of it that the year the Cavs get another #1 pick…it’s in a year where the draft class is pretty bland.

  • dma

    Until they decide to televise it, people will continue to speculate. And even then I don’t think they will stop.

  • http://countdownnba.blogspot.com/ Clay

    Sorry Kahn. We know how much you wanted another point guard. The Cavs are now trying to package the first and fourth picks for LeBron.

  • matt

    Myung – NBA put in a rule that said that Vancouver + Raps couldn’t get 1st overall pick in 1st 3 years of the franchises. Also, no one could have predicted how good Kobe would be, wasn’t he picked 16th, exactly. Boing Dynasty – the graham pick and granger right after pains me the most. ATL – u guys have some history. We have 1 pennant and won 1 playoff series.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I feel the draft is rigged. I have felt that way since 85 and I wasn’t even born yet

  • JTaylor21

    For once I agree with Kahn. There’s something fishy about the way the cameras are not allowed to see the real process of picking out the ping-pong balls. Imagine if a state lottery was performed the same way.

  • Kaycee Coleman

    If it was rigged, Blake Griffin would have ended up in OKC.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    why? LA is the biggest market in the league. NO logical reason for 2 of the leagues top draws to play on the same team in one of the leagues bottom 5 smallest markets.

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    Hahaha at the part where BC and Philo said they were morons. “We know” said the rest of the world.

  • Eddie1

    y’all laughed at Eddie when he said illuminati. Now Eddie laughing at you. EDDIE. SQUAD UP.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    actually if you don’t feel like the draft is atleast a little rigged, or rigged sometimes, then you are more likely to be the moron. The lottery turns out pretty close to perfect story line wise, every year or two.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    @nbk – because it would’ve made for another “incredible story line”.
    Griffin played HS ball in OK, played college ball at OK, then he joins up with Durant to take his hometown team to the top of the L.
    I do think it’s rigged too tho.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I guarantee he still pulls in more money for the league turning the clippers into a relevant franchise then he would have playing for his hometown team in Oklahoma City. The draft lottery is not rigged for a great story, its rigged for great business. The great story and great business aspect just go hand in hand a decent amount of the time. And they can’t make it too obviously rigged, because then there wouldn’t be those out there to jump to the lotteries aid everytime a team gets a suspect draw (which happens almost annually, in a system that is supposed to be 100% random)

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    Oh look, it’s the Buddhist…

  • dsleepy

    way to stay classy there, kahn.

  • JD

    He’s got a point

  • dsleepy

    i’m actually laughin at eddie now. eddie cracks me up by referring to himself in 3rd person and referencing illuminati for a professional basketball draft lottery.

  • dsleepy

    damn eboy you are ice cold. have some sympathy for the franchise your commander-in-chief straight up robbed.

  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    Actually, I thought Stern was just throwing Sterling a bone with that one.
    Ha ha I know what you mean though.

  • T-Money

    you guys realize that team reps are allowed in the room when they’re picking the ping pong balls, right? usually they send a pr guy but as one writer pointed out yesterday, khan himself could have devided to attend. and besides, why would you even care about a product that you think is rigged? makes no sense.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    you realize they can dictate the weight of each ball. and they are hundreds of different scenarios, you think every person in that room has a cheat sheet with each one? they can’t video tape, or record the numbers drawn in anyway, and unless any of them are rainman its impossible for them to actually tell you anything coming out of that room.

  • dsleepy

    i love this website. The work day ain’t complete until I’ve seen some of the hilarious SLAM comments. Props and love to the SLAM fam.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    Hawks also skipped JR Smith, Deng and Iguodala. I think skipping Paul and Williams hurts the most

  • Eddie1

    In case y’all aint in the know. Slam banned my last user ID “Eddie” cuz they felt I kept harping on the illuminati. But seriously, when something like the NBA draft is brought up where that nerdy kid got the first pick, y’all know some ish is going down. It’s Illuminati. Eddie upgraded version 1.0. Holla if ya heard.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    T-Money, team reps ARE NOT allowed in the room while the lottery TAKES PLACE, meaning, nobody representing a team actually SEES it happening. The only thing you know are the possible combinations that each pick yields, but the process still takes place BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.
    Ah, but what would we do without your cynicism? Unless you can read it in the newspaper or on some website, then it’s purely speculation and simply not true.

  • T-Money

    The drawing of the ping-pong balls is conducted in private, though observed by independent auditors and representatives from each team. (clears throat)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Which is essentially meaningless. You can draw numbers infront of people all day doesn’t mean it isn’t fixed. I could probably holler at my boy David Blaine and he’ll do some magic that is much more impressive then rigging a lottery that is conducted infront of clueless independents and representatives.

  • Eddie1

    And how do we know the great David Stern does not employ an illuminati agent well-versed in magic and the dark arts to provide some manual manipulation of the draw to allow glasses the first pick. Ah anything for a story eh illuminati? Y’all even don’t realize the actual date today is August 12, 2011. The finals took place 2 months ago. It was Celtics vs. Grizz, but once again the illuminati had to rewrite history, most likely now dallas vs Miami. I am the neo of this world. Here me roarrrr. EDDIE. SQUAD UP.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    And the fact that many people feel the process is rigged holds no bearing on how they view the “product” which in this case is NBA basketball. That assertion makes no sense.
    People who feel the NBA “wants” certain teams to play in the Finals, not that sort of conspiracy theory is indeed stupid. The only way I’ll believe the lottery isn’t rigged is if the League allows more transparency.

  • http://pickandroll.tumblr.com airs

    eddie has stepped his game up.

  • http://slamonline.com Bryan Crawford

    T-Money, you might want to read Mary Schmitt Boyer’s Plain-Dealer article IN PRINT today. You know, since that’s the only thing you believe.

  • izzo

    I don’t understand why this is controversial.

  • Jono

    They can easily eliminate this by showing all that table tennis balls being drawn. I understand it’s slightly long and the process is complicated but what else do you have to show on an afternoon on NBA TV that’s that important? Play-offs are on ABC, ESPN or TNT anyway. I really really doubt the first ball that was picked up in 08 was the Chicago Bulls. Call me stupid but I’m an auditor so I’d like proof! They do it in Europe with the Champions League and in the World Cup. Why not show it on the tele Sterny?

  • flipnoyce

    I don’t think it’s rigged at all, thats why they called it lottery. You just never know what you’ll get.Just because one team has more picks doesn’t guarantee the #1 overall. The thing about the NBA is that certain team doesn’t draft right according to what the team already has. If a team already have a decent CENTER then draft a piece that you’ll most likely need and not the same POSITION the lottery indicate.

  • http://slamonline.com Ghost

    2011 draft #’s 3-10 = late teens any other draft.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    I don’t believe its rigged. If it were, the Clips would not have won the Griffin lottery, Boston would have won the Duncan or Durant/Oden lottery, Knicks would have got the 1st/2nd pick in the LBJ/Melo lottery. I agree that the results do seem convenient at times.

  • Eddie1

    @LA Huey. Boston winning Durant/Oden wouldn’t mean ish in terms of a story. Plus how can Stern deny this kid with bird on the brain and whose father went off the deep end when the King left Cleveland the first pick? Lesson to be learned. Think of a gimmick to help your team get a higher draft number. Send your kid, ex-owner’s wife, hot girlfriend, whatevs.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The whole idea that if it was rigged the NBA would be stupid about it is hilarious. Why wouldn’t the clips have gotten blake griffin? one logical reason will do. – why would Boston have gotten Oden? And that draft is the most “un-rigged” of all of the drafts over the last decade or so IMO. Even though the whole Jordan analogy seemed to play itself out perfectly for that season, coincidentally (if that’s what you believe) enough. — And LeBron to Cleveland was PERFECT, it resurrected a whole city and the NBA. He was too big of a star for the market to matter, sending him home to a place rife with professional sports disappointments seemed pretty fitting, and story book if he could squeeze out a championship or two. San Antonio rigged that whole 97 season so they would have a shot at duncan, and Stern was more then likely foaming at the mouth to have a good guy counterpart to the budding Laker dynasty of the time. I mean I can probably defend every lottery from a rigged not rigged persepctive, either way. And if the lottery weren’t rigged in any way, i doubt I would be able to do that, year after year after year.

  • Waggle

    Shout out to Eddie.

  • retrobat

    Wayno FTW!! That ish had me laughing so hard!

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    As long as you all know that Patrick Ewing to the Knicks was not rigged.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Congrats to the Cavs and Nick Gilbert though, their team definitely needed that first pick. No complaints here.

  • Harlem_World

    Teams are going to have to draft well because there is not enough talent in the draft to trade draft picks for quality vets.

  • monkeyball

    Stern is too smart to rig the lottery. He knows if he got caught it would be a PR disaster. Same with conspiracy theories about ref calls (e.g., game 6 of the 02 Lakers-Kings WCF). I just don’t believe it. Not because these guys have scruples, but because they don’t have the tools to make sure there are no leaks.

  • jose

    As much as i felt bad for The L-wolves for lucking out again, Cleveland deserved some bright spot out of whats happened this year.. . .th way i see the lottery when it comes to 1st round picks is sure you have a largest chance to get the 1st pick compared to each respective team, but combined the other 13 teams have a 75% of getting that pick, vs your 25%. . .yea . .

  • http://www.twitter.com/JoshElam JE

    man, it probably is. it was definitely a ballsy move for him to say it given the circumstances, but it probably is. There’s no real reason to not show the ping pong ball process live, other than to adjust the picks the way you want, when you want.

  • Waylonakolipse

    C’mon, they got a Jew commish….Fix the draft a little and generate $100,000,000+ for an NBA team over the course of a players carreer. That’s a no brainer. Notice how bad teams in good markets rarely get top 5 picks?

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    More amazingness from BC: “THAT conspiracy theory is really dumb and people who think it are dumb. THIS one though, is pretty obviously true.” He brings joy to my day.
    Also, when someone says “he’s Jewish OF COURSE he should be good at marketing” I never know whether to be offended or not.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    In this day and age, I don’t know how anyone could put anything past anybody. It doesn’t have to be rigged in the sense that every year Stern decides what teams get what picks, but when you have a once in a generation player like James in the draft and the team in his home state has a chance at the top pick, why not make it happen?