Man, this guy is thorough. I suppose Kurt has learned a lot, and taken a lot from both Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, both as an assistant and a player. For a young team like the Timberwolves, there needs to be a teacher at the helm who has patience for days. Rambis seems like a good fit because he has experience on the bench, but he knows his team isn’t going to win now. As he points out below in his first interview after taking the T-wolves head coaching job, he wants to see growth now, but he knows the wins will come down the road. I don’t see Kurt stomping up and down the sidelines as many rookie head coaches do (let’s forget about his interim gig in ’99), and it’s not only because he was a student of Phil Jackson for so many years, I just don’t see it as his personality. This team needs to grow now. With all the talent he has on his young roster, his ability to take a player aside and effectively explain what he wants will be key in the short-term. Rambis joined KFAN in Minneapolis to discuss why this job was appealing to him, what long-term security means to him, how he will communicate, and what he wants to see from his players.
Why is this job promising?
“I see the potential in this team, I see the opportunity here to work with a solid group of young, talented ball players; their draft picks in Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn are very exciting point guards. So, the potential’s here, albeit there are some still pieces missing. The inside presence of Jefferson, his rebounding capabilities along with Kevin Love, the point guards; this team is an up and coming team, the cap space that David Kahn has cleared to add in free agency, the draft picks that we have… This team, we believe, can quickly be built in to a high caliber team that can win ball games.”
On players’ understanding where he’s come from as a player and a head coach:
“The players know of me as a player: they know how I played and how hard I worked, they know the associations I’ve had with excellent coaches in this league, and the experiences that I’ve seen either playing under or working for those respective coaches. They all know that. Most players in the league follow what’s going on with championship caliber players and coaches, and they wanna be associated with them. But, more than anything else, the trust factor has to develop. I’m going to be completely honest with them, I’m going to feather out whatever their strengths are and also explain to them what their weaknesses are. I’m gonna explain to them in clear language what I feel they have to do to help our team win, to help them be successful, what I feel is gonna get them time out their on the floor.”
On whether or not the fourth year on the contract was vital to him signing:
“Absolutely, absolutely, and I made a commitment to Glen Taylor that I’m here for the long haul, I’m not here for the short haul, I wanna be here through the growth process. I love to teach the game, I love to develop players’ talents, but I want to be here through the rough times when we know we’re gonna take our lumps, and I wanna be here when this thing turns around and we start competing for playoff wins, and hopefully some point and time, a championship title.”
On why he chose Minnesota over Sacramento as reports indicated:
“This opportunity, for multiple reasons, was a better opportunity for me, that’s clear in my mind.”