Nearly two decades ago, Kurt Rambis stepped up in a critical way for the Los Angeles Lakers.
As he arrived on the court, stylish, wearing enormous black glasses, a thick mustache, and tight, small shorts, no one would ever mistake him for tough.
But that's exactly what Kurt embodied.
Known for his physicality in sustaining possessions with his exceptional rebounding, the tall and lanky forward was an inside force.
For instance, Rambis’ energetic dominance was a primary factor in a memorable Game Four of the 1984 NBA Finals, between his "Showtime" Lakers and the Boston Celtics. In that game, Rambis caught a pass on a fast break, and was on his way to dunking the ball when Celtics PF Kevin McHale clotheslined him.
Now, 25 years later, Rambis gets a shot at reviving the same franchise McHale couldn't.
On Tuesday afternoon, Rambis advanced to new heights, and now can take responsibility in leading a team under his behalf as the new coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
At last, the Wolves can say they’ve found a coach with potential, someone who can make vital adjustments and instill charisma. At last, they can attempt to rebuild into contenders, dismissing previous coaches who have failed, one of them being McHale, who was the former president and coach.
After 10 years of being an Assistant Coach, Rambis earned his first chance at making the calls. He will never have to sit on the bench waiting for the boss to call the plays.
Its his job now. A job to bring the Wolves back into the playoff picture; one they haven't seen since Kevin Garnett left town for a ring in Boston.
From his distinctive star power in the ‘80’s, one that rivaled local Hollywood celebs, Rambis was admired. He was the one player aside from Magic Johnson, who played an integral role in the Lakers dynasty.
He's also been on the bench for many of the Lakers titles this decade. But no longer will he have to sit in the shadows of Phil Jackson. He now confronts his own challenges; coaching the youth of the Wolves.
This rare opportunity gives Rambis the chance to mold players and develop them into solid professionals.
For much of Rambis’ life, he's played in an up-tempo offense, meaning, he will most likely install one. It will create a dynamic and tense transition game, which can quite often be difficult to stop on both the perimeter and in the paint.
This past June, after the NBA Draft, many league experts were perplexed by GM David Kahn's moves. But one sure-fire winner, has been the signing of Rambis. In the past two seasons, the Wolves collected just 22 and 24 wins, making it difficult to hire a coach to clean up dismay.
It was simple for Mark Jackson, ABC/ESPN analyst, to pass on this job. But Rambis embraced the challenge - a hard one at that.
Now fans in the "Twin City" are counting on him to bring the Wolves back to the playoffs.
With Rambis' hiring, the drafting of Jonny Flynn, and the possible addition of Ricky Rubio, the fans will support the Wolves and their new faces.
First and foremost, Rubio may not even play in Minnesota this season due to contract disputes. But well-rounded prospect, Jonny Flynn will. The Syracuse alum, has the potential to blossom into a superstar with his poise and leadership qualities. And there’s no better leader or mentor than Rambis to cultivate guidance.
It will be interesting to see if the franchise that Rambis dedicated most of his life to, the Lakers, is one that he can help challenge in the coming years.
But in the meantime, it will have to be a complete effort from top to bottom, for the Wolves to get back to the promised land. But the hiring of Kurt Rambis was a great start to a new beginning.