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NBA Draft Lottery

May 23, 2003 Columns No Comments

Follow the Bouncing Ball

by Zach Van Hart

There is nothing like the NBA Draft Lottery. Thirteen executives, coaches or players sitting around, hoping their little ball pops up first so their team can select the best college, or high school, or foreign player out there. Forget the playoffs, this is NBA excitement.

Who cares that with each passing draft, teams are selecting less and less college players, let alone older college players. Does it matter the last time a college player was selected No. 1 was 2000 and one will not be the top pick this year either? Or the fact this year’s likely top three picks will have one combined year playing NCAA hoops? Ah, how cares it’s only the lotto right? So how did this year’s LeBron, I mean NBA, lotto breakdown? Let’s check it out.

First off, what’s the deal with the creepy guy moving his hands all over the place during the intro? I’m thinking it was Cleo, Neo’s long lost cousin. Did anyone else just want to yell, “You’re not the one,” into the TV?

From the get go it was made obvious this draft is all about LeBron, Carmelo and Darko Milicic. First, we heard about all three players’ past; then we even saw where each of three was watching the lottery. LeBron was heading up to a hotel in Akron, Carmelo was watching from home in Maryland, while Darko chilled at his agent’s office in New York.

None of them liked the camera too much, that’s for sure. It was great when they showed both Carmelo and Darko watching their own TV’s, so you could see them in their TV too. Couldn’t they just turn to the camera and wave? The camera doesn’t bite.

Then David Stern comes out and talks about how to handle the continuing younger crop of players entering the NBA. He even mentioned college credit programs. Now I thought the whole point of declaring early or jumping straight from high school is to avoid classes. Hey LeBron, I know you just signed a 90 million dollar shoe contract but we want to put you on a program to get a communications degree. Right.

But while Stern was talking, who caught the sweet revolving globe in the background? Forget a disco ball, I want that thing in the center of my living room.

Finally, 10 minutes into the show, we meet the thirteen guys hanging out in the background. Can you believe B. J. Armstrong still looks like he’s 10? I swear he is going to be the next Dick Clark with that young of a face. New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with B. J. Armstrong – has a nice ring to it.

Without a doubt, the coolest part of the draft is the mini-basketballs in front of each team’s representative. Reminds me of amusement parks, where you spend every penny you have just to shoot a free throw in hopes of winning a mini-ball, a ball you could easily buy for five bucks at Wal-mart.

This year, the last hoop showed off the new logo of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wow, this franchise even changed its colors for LeBron. There was some serious tension in the air, and all over northeastern Ohio as well.

The tension rose when the No. 6 envelope contained the Clippers, meaning the Grizzlies had moved up to one of the top three spots. And just to remind everyone this draft was about three players, the show went to commercial after the No. 4 envelope.

So we come back from commercial and all of a sudden Jerry West and Vince Carter have swapped positions. What was this about? Perhaps West’s crazy story about some farm animal was too much for Elgin Baylor and he requested a trade. Good thing those mini-basketballs were not glued in to those desks, or Baylor might have heard about West’s pets at home. And these guys were teammates for 12 years.

Then they announced the No. 3 pick, which went to Denver. So it was either Vancouver or Cleveland. Or Detroit as it turned out. Due to a trade many years ago, the Grizzles pick turned over to the Pistons unless it was the No. 1. So with his team warming up down the road at the Continental Airlines Arena, Pistons President Joe Dumars was rooting for an envelope. Man I love the lotto.

And when the No. 2 envelope revealed the Grizzles, did anyone else happen to think this must be the greatest moment in Cleveland owner Gordon Gund’s life? Gund stood up happier then a kid Christmas morning and then uttered the funniest line of the night – “We don’t know who we are going to pick yet.”

Ha, and I’m not sure if I would give Britney Spears a call if she gave me her digits. Gund could not even hold up for two seconds; he showed off the biggest cheese ever. I was half expecting him to announce the arena named after him would be changed to LeBron Arena for the next season.

So LeBron will be the top pick and play within an hour of home. And with the second pick, NBA analyst David Aldridge made it clear Detroit would select Mr. Milicic. Even when Dumars said at halftime the organization will discuss both players, Aldridge retorted with, “trust me folks, it’s Milicic.”

But do not fret college hoops fans, for it appears Mr. Anthony will be going No. 3 in the draft. And for all of those traditionalists out there, it sounds as if Kirk Hinrich will be a lottery pick. Well, that concludes another successful NBA Draft Lottery. Not only is it the most exciting NBA event of the year, but it’s also the only good reason for a lotto system in the first place.

So does anyone know the winning Pick 3 numbers from last night?


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