|Sidelined by heart issue, Hoiberg focuses on new job with Wolves|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2007 13:52|
It so stirred his competitive desire that Hoiberg - whose retirement from the NBA was forced last year by a heart condition - told his wife that he might try to play again for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
``Then I realized in the morning that I lost my mind for a minute,'' Hoiberg said.
No, the risk - no matter how minimal - of participating in 82 games plus all the practices that come with is still not worth worrying his family over.
``There's no chance that will happen,'' said Hoiberg, who spent 10 seasons in the NBA.
So the sharp-shooting guard, who turns 35 later this year, must satisfy his basketball craving in the front office. Hoiberg recently completed his first season as an assistant general manager with the Wolves.
``It's going to be an important summer for us, and I'm looking forward to the challenge,'' Hoiberg said. ``Hopefully we can get this team back in the playoffs - and a team that this city can be proud of.''
In an interview at Target Center on Wednesday, Hoiberg repeatedly reminisced about the chemistry his team had offensively, defensively and in the locker room during the 2003-04 season - when Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell led the Wolves to the Western Conference finals.
That harmony quickly disappeared, and vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale will be looking for role players like Hoiberg - a well-rounded and well-respected reserve - in an attempt to rediscover it. Minnesota finished 32-50 this season, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
It's difficult to digest the end of his playing career, but Hoiberg can help in other ways. Instead of swishing 3-pointers, he spends his time scouting and meeting with McHale and front-office colleagues Rob Babcock and Jim Stack to make decisions about the direction of the team. Hoiberg was scheduled Thursday to start arranging player workouts for the weeks leading up to the college draft.
``I'm going to take this job very, very seriously and do everything I can to help this team,'' Hoiberg said, ``but at the same time when you're laying on a table for eight hours with your chest sliced open, it puts everything in perspective. Family is so important.''
With four kids, ages 9 and under, a healthy heart is the priority. Born with an enlarged aortic root, Hoiberg learned he had a life-threatening condition during a routine life insurance exam.
``I was playing with a ticking time bomb in my chest,'' he said.
Now, he has a pacemaker and must visit the doctor every six months for a checkup.
In fact, Hoiberg recently found out that his aortic valve has a ``moderate to severe'' leak in it that will need to be replaced and require another open-heart surgery within the next five years.
``I'll get a new valve, whether it's a pig valve or a mechanical valve, but I feel normal,'' he said.
Hoiberg has actually been away from home more than he was during his playing days, with weeks on the road scouting college players this winter and occasional trips with the team. The hours will grow longer as the draft and free agency approaches.
McHale has made annual decisions about whether to return, so Hoiberg could be groomed to eventually take over. Owner Glen Taylor said last week that he appreciates Hoiberg's perspective as a recent player.
But there is plenty more to learn before that becomes a possibility.
``My main objective right now is to help this team get better, whichever way I can,'' he said.