With the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select ... Ricky Rubio.
With the sixth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select ... Jonny Flynn.
With the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select ... Stephen Curry.
And the rest is history.
Why did Minnesota pass on Curry twice?
Former Timberwolves GM David Kahn explained in a Sports Illustrated article released on Monday.
"In 2009, just days after my May 22 hiring as President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the agent for Steph Curry told me that Steph’s father, Dell, did not want his son to be drafted by Minnesota—“No offense,” as I recall Jeff Austin, his agent saying to me at the Chicago draft combine.
Jeff Austin, who I'd known casually, had represented Dell Curry when he was a player. He had been handed Steph due to his connection to Dell and told me this was a family request. “I really need your help on this,” Jeff said, explaining why there would be no visit and perhaps even hell-to-pay. (As it turned out, this was the only time when I was with the Wolves that I ever ran into this type of draft problem.)
The back-channel message would have weighed heavily in my decision-making process under any circumstances, but especially in Minnesota. Immediately after my hire, I was spending nearly every weekday morning in the team’s conference room, listening to team business partners and season-ticket holders lament over coffee and pastries. “You’ll never attract free agents here,” they said, practically in unison. “Players don’t want to play in cold-weather places.” Doomsday all around.
I figured it was probably the wrong time to tell them about the Currys.
The intensity of the fans’ conviction that players would never come to Minneapolis caught me by surprise. I had worked in another small market—Indianapolis—for almost a decade and always understood there were inherent advantages to being in New York or Los Angeles. But we never felt we were incapable of competing for players.
Complicating matters was Ricky Rubio, an 18-year-old Spaniard who had a rare flair for passing and setting up scorers, and had captivated me. Two weeks before the draft, I made a trade with Washington, sending Randy Foye and Mike Miller for the No. 5 pick in the draft. This allowed us the flexibility to draft Rubio, who had a major buyout in his contract likely preventing him from coming to the NBA right away—and who many believed would never play in Minnesota and force a trade.
So we now had the Nos. 5 and 6 picks in the draft. Taking not one, but two players who might not want to play in Minnesota? That would have taken real cojones. We took Rubio and Jonny Flynn, a ready-to-play point guard who started 81 games for us as a rookie and then fell victim to a terrible hip injury. At the time, drafting Flynn made a lot of sense: we didn't have a single point guard on the roster and our staff had ranked him No. 1 among all point-guard prospects for not only his on-court play, but also his strong leadership qualities, a significant team need.
Flynn made his final move to the top of our charts based on his impressive visit and workout with Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings, among others. Curry's absence was duly noted. Rubio wasn't there, either, but I thought his passing ability and defense were extraordinary for an 18-year-old and was willing to take the risk I could ultimately recruit him to come. That was the player I wanted."
Flynn averaged 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game as a rookie, but only played 82 games the rest of his career.
Rubio finally joined the Wolves for the 2011-12 season. He averaged 11.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.1 rebounds per game this past season.
Steph Curry has won two championships, two MVPs and is the only unanimous MVP in NBA history.
Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller