Kurt Rambis: “We want to win a championship; we want to put a championship caliber team on the court”
The Kurt Rambis era kicked off for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rambis, the ninth head coach in the team’s 20-year history, had been an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers for 10 seasons. It’s a little bit different scenario in Minnesota and LA, the Lakers won the championship last season and the Wolves finished just 24-58 last season. Minnesota hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season, where they lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The Wolves have a very young nucleus with Al Jefferson, Kevin Love (who’s currently injured) and rookies Jonny Flynn and Wayne Ellington, and Ricky Rubio (who won’t play this season with the team). They have a head coach with limited experience as a head coach, but he did earn his stripes under Phil Jackson. They also have very low expectations nationally which sometimes is dangerous for a team with nothing to lose. This team will get better, maybe not a playoff team this year but as the Western Powers get older, the younger teams get wiser. Kurt Rambis joined KFAN in Minnesota and talked about the young T’Wolves team, the expectations he has for this season, and why he didn’t just wait for Phil Jackson to retire in Los Angeles.
Asked about coaching this team this season and if he has patience:
“I have raised three kids; I know what patience is all about. I am excited about this coaching opportunity; I am excited about the guys on the ballclub. We have a really good group of guys, there just genuinely good people, they are fun to coach. They want to learn, they are willing listeners. It’s made my first real coaching experience very enjoyable so far.”
Asked about Jonny Flynn and his leadership qualities:
“He is young so he is a little uncertain about what he wants to do right now and what he can do and developing that trust that leaders have to have in order to lead their ballclub. He is still learning things himself, while he is trying to figure everything out and grasp all the things I am trying to preach and teach to him to do out there on the floor. The leadership is going to come I believe and at some point in time he is going to be the leader of this team. He has to really have everything locked down in his mind before he advances out there into that territory and before the veterans on the team really trust him. That’s one of the negative aspects of having a young ballclub. We haven’t had anyone step forward yet and be the leader of this team.”
Asked why he didn’t wait around in LA to take the job after Phil Jackson retires:
“They want Phil to coach as long as he can coach. As long as he wants to coach. How long is that going to be, 3, 4, 5 years from now? Phil is a very competitive individual, he wants to win, he wants to win championships and right now that team is built to win championships. I just thought this was a great opportunity here, to come to a young team, we got a lot of draft choices, got a lot of free agent space for the upcoming year. David Kahn, the new VP of operations assured me we would be working hand in hand in turning this team around in our vision. We want to win a championship, we want to put a championship caliber team on the court, and we want to play a certain style of ball that’s exciting for the fans to watch. I wanted to come in on a ground floor situation and that opportunity doesn’t come along that often. All of those pieces were there and when an opportunity like this comes along I just didn’t think it was the to turn it down and wait for something that may or may not happen with the Lakers and what direction they would turn to when Phil retires.”