- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Forbes has confirmed it does not know a puck from a basketball in selecting Kevin McHale the No. 1 general manager in the four major professional sports leagues.

The two writers apparently employed a Ouija board, tarot cards and rough guesses in determining their rankings.

It perhaps comes as a surprise to the two writers that McHale is the outgoing general manager of the Timberwolves, his longevity merely a sign that owner Glen Taylor has been asleep on the job.

Forbes has fallen susceptible to that old staple in the magazine industry: the ubiquitous list.

As you know, magazines devise lists for everything, such as: best restaurants, best neighborhoods, best political commentators and best taxi drivers. You also can find a list of the best universities, best bars, best workout clubs, best Web sites, best interior designers, best medium-sized cities and best handymen.

America’s obsession with superlatives starts in high school, when the senior dubbed most likely to succeed inevitably ends up going bankrupt and losing his home, wife and kids before turning 40.

Who knows why it always goes down this way for the class nerd who could recite the nuances of photosynthesis in five languages, not unlike Dikembe Mutombo? It just always ends up that way.

But give the editors of Forbes credit.

If the object of a list is to generate buzz, favorable or not, the editors of Forbes have a slam dunk, assuming they know what a slam dunk is.

Hint: It is what goalie Terrell Owens does to every quarterback who has the temerity to be in the same huddle as him.

The methodology of the general-manager list is flawed, to say the least, because the two writers go to considerable trouble to minimize the obvious benchmark of success: winning.

Years ago, when Al Davis was still among the living, the Raiders owner uttered one of the most philosophical lines ever that cut to the essence of sports, which was: “Just win, baby.”

All the rest is background noise.

So if the Forbes writers are not as impressed with winning as the rest of America, McHale could be the No. 1 general manager in the four major professional sports leagues.

After all, McHale has Mother Teresa for an owner, a perennial All-Star in Kevin Garnett and the 58-24 record in 2004 before it all came apart.

I mean, what would be the sense of devising an intricate formula that would put Pat Riley ahead of McHale after Riley’s team of pensioners, hangers-on and the player formerly known as the Glove won the NBA championship last June?

That would be too obvious.

Besides, Forbes did not even bother to rank Riley, although he makes all the personnel decisions with the Heat.

Instead, the Heat’s Randy Pfund drew a No. 23 ranking from Forbes because of his ability to lug around Riley’s hair gel.

As for Washington’s representation, Ernie Grunfeld was ranked No. 25, George McPhee No. 71, Jim Bowden No. 77 and Vinny Cerrato No. 79 out of 98 general managers.

Of course, Grunfeld would have been ranked higher if he had agreed to trade the Poet, Peter John Ramos, Zack Bolno and future considerations for Garnett last year.

You know the rest of the story.

Grunfeld refused to part with Bolno, and Al Gore swelled up to Michael Moore proportions from his energy-guzzling home in Nashville after the Wizards lost to the Cavaliers in the playoffs last spring.

The Forbes formula is so goofy that Bryan Colangelo is ranked among the worst general managers at No. 94, just two places higher than Matt Millen.

All Colangelo has done is make the Raptors relevant again.

All Millen has done is remain employed with the Lions, which has become one of the world’s most speculative subjects, in the company of the tank man of Tiananmen Square.

At least Forbes did not grant Millen bonus points for being a survivor.

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