Ready for Rambis
MINNEAPOLIS -- At the request of new basketball boss David Kahn, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Ryan Gomes and the few remaining teammates left on the team's significantly remade roster will gather today at Target Center for a week of workouts to...
MINNEAPOLIS -- At the request of new basketball boss David Kahn, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Ryan Gomes and the few remaining teammates left on the team's significantly remade roster will gather today at Target Center for a week of workouts together.
"Just in time," Gomes said. "We've finally got a coach now."
Nearly two months after Kahn dismissed the coach who Gomes and his teammates hoped would return next season, Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis is expected to sign what is believed to be a four-year contract today for more than $8 million and Tuesday will be introduced as the man who will replace Kevin McHale.
Twenty-five years ago, McHale famously clotheslined Rambis in an NBA Finals game. Now, the working man's power forward who headed toward the basket for a layup so long ago will replace the future Hall of Fame player who once laid him flat on his back.
"They played way before my time, but I know about that play, I've seen that play," Gomes said. "Their coach said, 'No layups' and Mac made sure there were no layups. It's weird that we'll be coached by both of the players involved in that altercation."
McHale coached 94 games in two interim stints with the Wolves after he moved from the front office to the bench in two emergency situations. Rambis coached the Lakers for 37 games in the strike-shortened 1998-99 season and has filled in for Phil Jackson on various occasions in a decade as a Lakers assistant.
McHale has been named one of the 50 greatest NBA players ever. Rambis is remembered as a gritty team player probably more well-known for his thick black-rimmed glasses with tape wrapped around the bridge than the fact that he won four NBA titles with the Lakers as a player.
The two men's playing and coaching careers are quite disparate, but former Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen knows their similiarities.
"They're both very hard-nosed guys who will not put up with any kind of garbage," said Madsen, who was traded to the Clippers last month. "Their styles are different and they have different skill sets, but they both know how you win. They both know how you do things the right way."
Rambis played for Pat Riley and worked under Jackson, whose 10 titles won are more than any other NBA coach.
"Kurt's a great teacher who has been learning and been tutored by two of the best coaches ever," said Madsen, who played with the Lakers before becoming a Timberwolf in 2003. "When he played for Riley, he learned the rules, the discipline, the very intense structure that Pat instills in his teams. Phil is exactly the opposite in a way. He's all about teaching correct principles and letting players govern themselves. I'm sure Kurt is probably going to be some combination of both as a head coach."
Jackson won his 10 NBA titles utilizing the complex "triangle" offense that was first popularized in college basketball in the 1940s. Jackson made NBA history with it, in good measure because he had players named Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant on his team.
Somebody asked Gomes on Sunday evening if he'll study up on the triangle offense now.
"I don't know, we'll see if we throw that in there," Gomes said. "We might. Our philosophies will change a lot. David (Kahn) told us that he wants to play more uptempo, more run-and-gun, and he was going to pick a coach who will get us to play that way. We'll see if that's the case. We'll learn a lot more on Tuesday."
At least now, Wolves players have the answer. They know who will coach them.
"He was one of the hot-name coaches out there," veteran forward Brian Cardinal said, referring to Rambis' candidacy for jobs in Sacramento and Philadelphia. "It goes to show Mr. Kahn and Mr. Taylor are not OK with mediocrity. They went out and got a name guy. Now we can move forward and focus on what happens with (first-round draft pick Ricky) Rubio. Hopefully, this rejuvenates the team, the community, the organization and we can get after it and have a great year."