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RAMBIS ADJUSTING TO WEATHER, LOSSES EL SEGUNDO - As a lifelong beach bum who has always been as comfortable riding a long board as holding a clipboard, longtime Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis knew his first Minneapolis winter was going to be rough.

Nonetheless, no amount of advance planning prepared the first-year Timberwolves coach to step off the team plane into his first blizzard late Tuesday night.

The temperature had already dipped below zero. Icy winds penetrated his thin jacket as though it were made of mesh. Unplowed roads were so snowy and treacherous that Rambis made each of his players check in with the team trainer when they arrived home so he could be sure they were safe.

"I got off the plane, and it was quite a shock," Rambis said Thursday at the Lakers practice facility the day before he faced his former team for the first time. "There was a lot of snow on the ground. It was late. The snowplows hadn't gotten out and cleared everything, so I just wanted to be sure everyone got home safe."

Just like the frigid Midwestern climate caught Rambis by surprise even though he went in with his eyes wide open, the Timberwolves' rebuilding effort has also been more difficult than he anticipated. Minnesota has the West's worst record at 3-19, not entirely unexpected with such a young team. Yet it's still a shock for a man who knew almost nothing besides winning during more than two decades with the Lakers as a player, coach and front office executive.

"You kind of readjust your priorities," he said. "With the Lakers , basically they're assuming they're going to be in the NBA Finals and hopefully win a championship. We're trying to improve and develop the young players we have on our ballclub and get them to play Basketball the right way."

It wasn't as though Rambis accepted Minnesota's four-year contract offer last summer with visions of challenging the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy anytime soon. The Timberwolves, more than five years removed from their last playoff appearance, were coming off a 24-58 season and have nine players 25 or younger.

Rambis has leaned on friend and mentor Phil Jackson for advice the past two months, regularly texting the Lakers coach for suggestions on how to keep the team motivated in the midst of a trying season.

"He's got his head on his shoulders as far as the record goes," Jackson said. "He knows that this is a team that has to grow. It's not going to be done in a week or a month. It's a season-long project."

While a long-distance relationship with his wife, two sons and teenage daughter has been difficult for Rambis, the city of Minneapolis has helped by embracing the deeply tanned Californian as one of its own. The Timberwolves even held "Kurt Rambis Night" last month, giving away a pair of black, thick-rimmed glasses to the first 5,000 fans at Target Center in homage to his trademark look during his playing days.

"He's great," forward Kevin Love said. "When it's time to have fun, he has fun. When it's time to get down to business, he's all about attention to detail."

About the only aspect of the transition Love didn't think Rambis has handled well is the weather. Love said Rambis' collection of winter coats are better suited for the Hermosa Beach pier than venturing outside the skyways of downtown Minneapolis.

"I try to tell him we're not in Southern California anymore," Love said.

As if Rambis needs any more reminders.

Kobe still silent

The morning after declining comment through a spokesman after Wednesday night's game, Kobe Bryant still was in no mood to talk about the home-invasion robbery that occurred Tuesday night at his gated community in Newport Coast.

Asked after Thursday's practice whether he or his family suffered any harm in the attack, Bryant paused, pursed his lips and stared witheringly at the TV reporter who asked the question for several awkward seconds until someone else interjected with another question.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 12, 2009


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