BEST TRADE Minneapolis 2000 -
Pop quiz: Name a single big-time trade engineered by a Minnesota professional sports franchise in the past year. Stumped? So were we. The Vikings' biggest acquisition of last season, quarterback Jeff George, came (and went) as the result of free agency. The Timberwolves haven't done much since the Stephon Marbury-Terrell Brandon deal more than a year ago. The Twins...well, who cares? The blockbuster trade, it seems, has become a thing of the past in our fair state, as if our collective sports consciousness were still so traumatized by the notorious Herschel Walker deal that we just can't work up the nerve for a big exchange. Then again, if you bend the definitions just a bit, there was one local whopper last year: replacing Gopher basketball coach Clem Haskins with Gonzaga head man Dan Monson. As with any great blockbuster, there were truckloads of money involved. Haskins collected a chunky $1.5 million on his way out the door (see "Best Golden Parachute") while Monson--whose former team bumped the Gophers from the 1999 NCAA tourney--signed for a cool $700,000. And like the best trades, Monson-for-Haskins paid immediate dividends. While the 2000 Gophers squad finished a disappointing 12-18, the new coach engineered one enormous victory: restoring a modicum of integrity to a program tarnished by the breathtakingly brazen hypocrisy that defined the Haskins era. In March the new coach even suspended his star player--the now-NBA-bound sophomore sensation Joel Przybilla--for the somewhat quaint offense of slacking off on his schoolwork--a by-the-book move that would have been unimaginable had Haskins not been sent packing back to his Kentucky farm.