Forget the owner’s box. Glen Taylor should be slapped into a penalty box.
The owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves is a farm boy from Confrey who grew up to become a state senator and made a few bucks making wedding invitations and other stuff. Enough bucks to buy a majority stake in the T-wolves.
But bucks, clearly, have nothing to do with brains.
Sports owners are the most visible of a unique breed of man (and woman) – people who think that because they’re successful in one arena it makes them smart in another. Kinda like of lot of the guys on Wall Street, as in the guys at Bear Stearns – $2/share Bear Stearns. I’m sure the folks who ran that firm were smart enough, at one juncture, to make enough money to buy the Hamptons. Then they got stupid. Or arrogant. Or both. Over the weekend their once-vaunted firm sold for $2/share. On the Street, that’s punk money.
We typically don’t hear about the Wall Street guys until something like Bear Stearns happens. Sports, by contrast, owners might pipe up any time.
Some of them are actually worth hearing from. Jerry Jones knows a bit about the football business. Jerry Colangelo know hoops. Marc Cuban is passionate and often entertaining. And as long as George Steinbrenner is breathing The Boss can say anything he wants.
Taylor ‘s millions have not earned him the right to say a peep.
And certainly nothing as asinine as he uttered on Tuesday. In response to a local columnist who insinuated that the T-Wolves should tank the rest of the regular season in an effort to secure a better draft pick, Taylor noted that his team would never do such a think but added that Kevin Garnett – the T-Wolves’ signature player for 12 long seasons – “tanked it” when he sat out the last five games of 2006-’07 in order to get his sore right knee checked.
It’s tempting to chalk up Taylor’s missive as a brain fart, but that would be too dismissive of a remark that is beyond absurd.
Garnett is a rare athlete whose greatest fault just might be his indefatigable passion and commitment. Tanked is not in his DNA. In fact, if anyone tanked on the T-Wolves it’s Taylor, bungled things up by signing Joe Smith to an illegal contract that cost the T-Wolves three first-round picks and refusing to fire GM Kevin McHale who, in the pre-Isiah Thomas Era, may have been the worst executive in the NBA.
Garnett elevated the value of Taylor’s franchise for more than a decade, and played to the highest level of professionalism.
And for that, Taylor throws Garnett under the team bus.
But I love Garnett’s response. Last night, after KG led the Celtics’ 94-74 streak-ending rout of the Houston Rockets, he showed nothing but class. He refused to grovel in slime of the owner’s making. “Glen Taylor was good to me while I was a Timberwolf and I’m a Boston Celtic now,” Garnett told reporters. “I’m not going to be going back and forth saying tasteless things. That’s not my character.”
Character. Class. All that time KG spent with Taylor, it’s too bad none of the player rubbed off on the owner.