David Kahn, the media, and cognitive dissonance...


As a person who earned a Bachelor’s of Science for studying Speech Communication, I’ve always  found myself more fascinated by the way things are reported than the actual events themselves.  SnP, who is clearly trained in the dark arts of PR, Branding, and Communication, gave us an excellent post about the power of narratives.  How they take hold, last, and continue to survive…even in the face of massive amounts of evidence to the contrary. 

The Cubs are still “lovable losers,” even though they’ve won the NL Central more than anyone else this decade with a huge budget.  Brett Favre is still an “old school warrior” despite his girlish, diva actions of the last several years.  And the Minnesota Timberwolves are a dysfunctional franchise that can’t do anything right.  Doesn’t matter if any of these things are actually still true…the story template is in the computer, and god forbid a “journalist” actually re-writes a franchise narrative, or does any new research.


More about the ridiculous "I've already determined David Kahn is a terrible GM in 3 months" myth after the jump...

  Anywhoo, I’m not covering any new ground that SnP didn’t already cross.  But when we leave the freeway of the “Timberwolves are terrible” narrative, and compare it to the off-ramp of actual reality, we arrive in my neighborhood.  The strange “Am I crazy, or is it you” block called cognitive dissonance.  My short explanation for this feeling is as follows (and in my own inelegant words):


Cognitive dissonance occurs when pieces of information you encounter don’t seem right or don’t make sense.  Usually, there are two pieces of contradictory information that seem unresolvable.  In most cases, to deal with said phenomenon, our brains choose to discard those elements causing the most dissonance, thus rendering our reality explainable once again.  This usually involves a lot of denial. 


So how is this relevant to a post on the Wolves?  Because the more I read as the summer goes on, the more I am astounded by the coverage of David Kahn’s tenure as our GM.  Before we’ve even fielded a team, I’ve read articles that refer to Pork Chop’s moves  as “disastrous,” “baffling,” and “douchebag.”  OK, I made that last one up, but just barely.


I think most of us on this board have been fairly unanimous in that Kahn has gotten off to a great start, but EVERY SINGLE TIME I read something national about Kahn, they are absolutely savaging him.  Are we being delusional fans that simply don’t get it, or are the “Great NBA Minds” of the national NBA media way ahead of us?  Here are some priceless examples of the supposed new T’Wolves GM  ineptitude:


Chad Ford from ESPN - The Wolves sent away two key players on their roster, Foye and Miller, in exchange for some undesirable contracts and a player -- Rubio -- who is threatening that he won't play for the Wolves. If Kahn sorts all of this out, either via trade or by persuading Rubio to come and try his mad experiment, the Wolves will move up in these rankings and I may even call Kahn a genius.  But for now, the team appears to be in disarray and considerably worse off than it was going into the draft. Not a great start for Kahn.

Drew D from “Sir Charles in Charge” rates Kahn as the 2nd worst GM in the NBA – “Only Michael Jackson’s summer has been worse.   The bottom line with Kahn is that he really needs Ricky Rubio to be wearing a Timberwolves jersey by October.  Has any GM ever had a more disastrous first eight weeks on the job?”

And my personal favorite headline from “David Kahn, New GM of the Timberwolves: A Toxic Blend of Isiah Thomas and Chris Wallace


I know I don’t need to explain to each person on this board why I feel our off-season moves made sense.  My theory  of said "reporters", as SnP suggested, is that they simply don’t know what to write.  They’re too lazy, or too stupid, to examine the moves that have been made thus far.  But I’m sure if you asked them, we’re too dumb and unconnected to see the “Big Picture.”   No matter what happens in any given off-season, here are the results the media arrives at: Phil Jackson = Zen Master, Popovich = Genius, Shawn Kemp = Man with no condom, and Timberwolves = Incompetent. 

So if we subscribe to the theory of cognitive dissonance, we are dealing with contradicting ideas.  Either the media is right and David Kahn is the biggest idiot to ever hold the title of NBA GM (sorry Isiah), or he is taking the Minnesota Timberwolves in a bold, new direction (as several of us believe).  When faced with a contradiction, it’s necessary to check your premises because one of them is wrong.  Personally speaking, I wouldn’t believe a single word or opinion coming out of the mouth of a national NBA source that spends (MAYBE) one week a year with our squad .  The most intelligent, informed, and critical voices for our team are right here in this town and on this board, IMHO.  While I am a bit worried that Kahn is a bit too much of a stockbroker-type guy for my taste (every player/pick is an interchangeable commodity), I can’t find a fault with a move he’s made yet.


Considering most of the comments from contributors I respect here seem to agree with my opinion, I’m feeling pretty good about the future of our club.  None of us expect a title anytime soon, but I sure as hell feel we’re closer now than we ever were under McHale.   Cognitive dissonance temporarily solved…for me…for now!  Is Kahn doing it for you too, or do you long for something else?

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