By: Tim Parochka
Everyone knows what success looks like, but what breeds success? What are the steps to success? What must a professional sports franchise do to accomplish success?
There is more than one way for a team to find it, but one common identifier which leads to success is a hell of a gamble from someone not afraid of failure.
One of the all-time Los Angeles Lakers legends is Kobe Bean Bryant. Kobe changed the Lakers franchise and became an integral part of five NBA championships before he retired. The years Kobe had in LA didn't happen because it's healthy for the NBA to have a successful team in Los Angeles. It happened because the Lakers gambled on Kobe and won the jackpot. The Lakers traded Vlade Divac for the 13th overall selection made by the Charlotte Hornets, which was Kobe.
The Dallas Mavericks gambled in the 1998 NBA draft by putting all their chips into a man from Germany, Dirk Nowitzki.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' gambled in the 1995 NBA draft by selecting Kevin Garnett out of high school. The gamble the Wolves made in 1995 is the reason I believe Minnesota still has a professional basketball team.
Risks don't just breed success in the NBA, either. It can be found everywhere.
The Patriots gambled by sticking with Tom Brady as the starter over Drew Bledsoe - I believe that worked. The Minnesota Vikings gambled by selecting a troubled young athlete, Randy Moss - 1998 was special in a large part because of Moss.
Taking a risk in sports is the reason general managers and coaches receive extensions and it's also why they get fired.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have had one successful tenure in franchise history because of a major risk. The Timberwolves franchise is about to have their second successful tenure because of a major risk, oddly enough, made by the same man.
It can be boiled down to the Kevin Love - Andrew Wiggins trade.
It was a major risk for Flip Saunders to hold on to Kevin Love for as long as he did, considering the Wolves received a remarkable offer for him. Just think: How many blockbuster deals occur in the month of August - not many.
Reportedly, the Golden State Warriors offered Klay Thompson, David Lee, and Harrison Barnes for Kevin Love and the 13th overall pick (Zach LaVine) via Stephen A. Smith. A majority of decision makers would not think twice about accepting the deal Golden State offered, but Flip envisioned a different outcome so he rejected the offer. That's like being offered free Chipotle for life and saying: "nah, I'm holding out for something better."
Then, LeBron James returned to Cleveland and decides he'd rather play with a proven NBA All-Star, Kevin Love, than an inexperienced player, Andrew Wiggins and the rest is history.
Flip rejected the deal for Klay Thompson and the result of the risk Flip decided to take is Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns.
So, what's the common identifier for success?
Someone with big kahunas.