Milt Newton Sharing His Goal, His Moment With Family

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Milt Newton Sharing His Goal, His Moment With Family

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

Milt Newton waited 22 years for this moment.

Sitting next to Wolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, Newton was officially being introduced as the team’s new general manager on Tuesday at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center—a title he’d worked to attain since receiving his master’s degree two decades ago. And when the time finally came to share his thoughts, his emotions and his accolades that led to this moment, Newton did something not every person would do in that position.

He spent his entire opening statement thanking everyone who helped him get to that spot.

That’s because this was not a personal achievement for Newton—it was a group celebration. To his immediate right, sitting in the front row, was his wife, his father and his in-laws (who are Minnesotans from the Minnetonka area). Tuesday marked a moment he waited for nearly his entire professional life, and he wanted to share that spotlight with his friends, wife and children, extended family and peers who helped support him in his journey.

“It means a lot to me, because as I mentioned this was the goal of mine and it became the dream for myself and my wife,” Newton said. “So to be able to share it with my family, who played an instrumental part in me getting to this point, was very gratifying.”

If there’s one thing Newton embodied during that journey to this moment, it’s the drive and work ethic to succeed and work his way up the ladder. Ask anyone—from Larry Brown to Commissioner David Stern to Saunders himself, who worked with Newton in Washington—and they’ll tell you the same thing.

Newton spent time with USA Basketball, the NBA Development League and 10 years with the Wizards as Director of Player Personnel before coming on board with in Minnesota, and each step along the way provided a new opportunity for Newton to learn, develop, build relationships and show the type of basketball mindset he possesses.

When Saunders took over the Wolves basketball operations department in May, Newton became an early candidate for this position because of his track record within the sport as well as his character. That, Saunders said, is another important piece.

“I really believe in Milt that we found the type of person that we have with other people in our organization,” Saunders said.

Both Saunders and Newton are familiar with one another, and Saunders said Newton’s willingness to challenge others on what the right decision should be was another important part of the process. Newton, Saunders, Director of Basketball Operations Rob Babcock and the rest of the basketball ops staff and scouts are encouraged to speak their mind and lay out all possible scenarios before the final decision is made.

It’s why Newton said he considers Saunders both a friend as well as a boss, and he knows the two can disagree and still be able to come together afterwards when it comes to the decision-making process.

“I believe in Flip, and I believe in the vision he has along with Mr. [owner Glen] Taylor,” Newton said. “And we get along together. I truly believe if you like the people you work with, everything is easier.”

Newton will begin his duties right after the weekend as he gets settled here in the Twin Cities, and when he does his first order of operations will be to continue assessing talent of fringe players who could get invites to camp and end up taking the 15th and final spot on the Wolves’ 2013-14 roster. Given Newton’s experience in the D-League as the NBADL’s Director of Player Personnel during the league’s early days, he has a firm grasp of how the minor league system can help develop players as they try to find a spot on NBA rosters.

Saunders said the Wolves will be very active in the NBADL and their affiliate, the Iowa Energy, moving forward.

“You have to find those players who are willing to work hard to reach that goal, and that’s the one thing Flip and I spoke about,” Newton said. “Finding talented players, but finding players who are willing to put in the work and realize their goals.”

Goals are something Newton referenced personally, within the organization and among the players during his press conference. Playing for Larry Brown at Kansas and learning from his philosophy, he said he gained a firm belief in working together and finding the right personnel that hold the same goals of winning as a group. As players, he talked about the willingness to achieve their utmost potential. And as for himself, being on that stage Tuesday morning was the first phase of him reaching his own aspirations.

That, and having members of his family on hand to experience it.

He said the toughest part about leaving Washington after 10 years as the Wizards’ Vice President of Player Personnel was moving away from his parents in the D.C. area. But the move also means his wife will get the chance to be closer to home, and once this opportunity opened up the move made too much sense professionally and personally to think twice.

“This has been my goal for 22 years and I was really fortunate to get to know Flip and like I said, we know each other well,” Newton said. “I think we will work well together. I'm really blessed to be in this position."

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