The Virgin Megastore on Hollywood Boulevard had a “Going Out Of Business!” sale this month. For the first few days, everything in the store was 30 percent off. The discount jumped to 40 percent and, finally, 80 percent. I voyaged down down there one day too late, well after every desirable DVD and Blu-Ray disc had been snagged. One wall of DVDs featured only “Don’t Mess with the Zohan” and “Meet Dave,” to give you a sense of what was left.
I spent 20 minutes sifting through the Blu-Ray remains. It wasn’t pretty. I talked myself into “Terminator 3,” “The Shining” and “Superman Returns,” then carried them for a few more minutes before realizing, “Wait a second, what am I doing?” I put the Blu-Rays back and walked out of the store.
Here’s the point: The 2009 NBA draft is the equivalent of that 10 minutes when I nearly talked myself into three Blu-Rays I didn’t even want. I have seen “The Shining” 10 million katrillion times. I don’t need to own it on Blu-Ray. But when it’s sitting on the same shelf with “Along Came Polly” and “Ocean’s 12”? It starts looking good by default. That’s the problem with this year’s draft class — too many “Terminator 3” Blu-Rays, only everyone else is so bad, you start talking yourself into them.
Maybe Tyreke Evans really is a point guard! Maybe DeMar DeRozan can put it together! Maybe Tyler Hansbrough isn’t too slow! Maybe Jrue Holiday’s college stats aren’t a red flag!
Trust me: It’s the worst draft class since the infamous Kenyon Martin Draft in 2000. If I had to bet my life on any 2009 prospect becoming a top-three player on a championship team, I’d bet on Blake Griffin, Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry. That’s it. You’d remember this draft as Suckapalooza 2009 someday if it hadn’t happened on the same day we lost Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. Only the Clippers could have the No. 1 pick on a day like this, right?
Without further ado, Draft Diary XIII …
4:30 p.m. (PT) — We’re coming to you live from the New And Improved Man Cave! I’m joined by my pooch Rufus, some leftover pizza and a can of Dr Pepper. Crazy day already: Farrah and Michael; Orlando trades for Vince Carter (one of the biggest “It will end up being either a huge hit or a giant miss” deals in recent memory); Mike Dunleavy lashing out at a Clippers season-ticket holder on Colin Cowherd’s radio show (OK, it was me, but still); and now, Blake Griffin is about to turn into the girl from “Drag Me to Hell.” My head is spinning.
Anyway, some highlights from ESPN’s pre-draft show with Stu Scott, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Jay Bilas:
1. They showed a shot of the Clippers war room. It was completely empty.
2. The other ESPN guys gently tempered Scott’s enthusiasm for Cleveland’s Shaq trade without one bluntly saying, “Stu, I have some bad news for you — it’s not 2001, it’s 2009.” This is why they keep me off studio shows.
3. Bilas said Griffin could “finish with either hand” twice in eight seconds. I’m 39 years old. It still made me laugh.
4. It took 21 minutes before someone (Fran Fraschilla) gushed about Rubio’s once-in-a-generation passing, two-steps-ahead-of-everyone timing and incredible career (playing professionally since age 14). Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is going to regret not being more excited about Ricky Rubio on June 25, 2009. More on this in a second.
4:33 — Why do I smile every time David Stern strolls out to greet everyone for an NBA draft? I swear, I just caught myself smiling. Good to see him.
4:39 — Blake Griffin goes No. 1, followed by shots of Griffin pretending to be happy and one lone Clippers fan smiling in the crowd. That was funny. That’s followed by Stern shaking Griffin’s hand the same way a father-in-law shakes a son-in-law’s hand right before he marries off his craziest daughter — as in, “I know you’re marrying into my family, but I have to be honest, I feel absolutely terrible about this and part of me wants to tell you to run.” That was funnier.
4:42 — “I’m not worried about what’s happened in the past,” Griffin tells Mark Jones. “I’m only looking forward toward the future.” Isn’t that what Mark McGwire said during the congressional hearings? Not a good omen. On the bright side, we just learned one of Griffin’s goals is to host “Saturday Night Live.” In all seriousness, what kind of odds would you put on this? I’m going with 750,000-1.
4:44 — Griffin’s dad just gave the best interview by a dad in NBA draft history. Gregarious, thoughtful, informative, funny — I loved it. Did he have a ton of competition for the title? Well, no. But still … I loved it.
4:44 — Mike Dunleavy’s mundane interview with Scott earns this e-mail from Chad in Denver: “In the history of the world, has there ever been someone who looked more like a 1930s Movie ‘Bad Guy’ than Coach Dunleavy? Do you think when players are cut or released, he tells them it’s ‘curtains’ for them? Are contracts and salary figures discussed in terms of ‘loot?’ During timeouts, I can’t tell if he’s drawing up plays or figuring out the getaway route for an armored car job.” And you forgot to mention that he’s robbing the Clippers right now.
4:46 — Jackson tells us the Grizzlies “are a team, to me, that needs talent.” I agree. I was just going to say that. By the way, I’m excited for “Thabeet over Rubio” to become the new “Darko over Carmelo.” Somebody should start a “Free Thabeet” blog right now. Beat the crowd.
4:46 — The Grizz take Thabeet. Of course they do. It would be funny if Rubio and his entourage were celebrating. Woohoo! We’re not going to Memphis! My take on Thabeet: He’s either a homeless man’s Dikembe Mutombo or a rich man’s Keith Closs Jr.
4:48 — “I’m not sure [Thabeet’s] offense is ever gonna get there,” Bilas tells us, adding, “He has to get stronger … DeJuan Blair absolutely beasted him … and he really has to refine his offensive skills.” That’s followed by Thabeet’s getting the ESPN graphic, “Must Improve: Offensive Game.” Somewhere, Darko Milicic is screaming, “I’m off the hook! I’m off the hook!”
4:50 — Jones asks Thabeet, “What does it mean to be the first player in the NBA from Tanzania?” This could be a long night. On the bright side, Thabeet apparently bought Andre the Giant’s voice on eBay. I keep waiting for him to challenge Big John Studd to a lumberjack match.
4:51 — OK, who would be the funniest celebrity to try to say the name “Hasheem Thabeet?” Tom Brokaw? Bob Cousy?
4:51 — I have to come clean: If the Zombie Sonics take Rubio or Curry, they will be employing my favorite college player of the decade (Kevin Durant); my favorite international player of the decade (Rubio) OR my favorite college player of the past two years (Curry); two other college guys I loved (Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook); and if that’s not enough, they have my favorite young coach (Scottie Brooks) and my favorite GM who didn’t go to MIT (Sam Presti). At some point, all these things will override “They have scummy owners who hijacked the team from Seattle.” I don’t trust myself to handle this well. I am an only child. I’m selfish. I care about me only. And if I’m watching 75 Zombie Sonics games next season, at some point, I’m going to want to go to one.
Just know that, if I switch to the dark side, I won’t do it half-assed. It will be like when Hulk Hogan joined the nWo. I’d see my editor (and die-hard Seattle fan) Kevin Jackson at the ESPYS, shake his hand, pretend to be nice, then hit him with a steel chair, do 10 leg drops on him and rip off my Hugo Boss suit to reveal a jersey of the Team That Shall Not Be Named as Erin Andrews screams, “Nooooooo! Nooooooo!” like Tony Schiavone. You’ll get your money’s worth. So again, I’m giving you a heads-up now. OK? OK.
4:52 — The Zombie Sonics take … James Harden. And thank God, I didn’t want to turn on Seattle. I really didn’t.
“He’s battled asthma since he was a child,” Scott tells us. How does Rubio drop to No. 4? How?!? I feel like I’m gonna pass out. I like Harden as a glue-character guy and he definitely has a good porn name. But considering the Zombies have to worry about Durant fleeing in a couple of years, wasn’t it in their best interests to find him an unselfish guard who’s immensely fun to play with and was put on the earth to get Durant easy baskets? Big mistake.
4:54 — An anonymous Seattle reader sends this e-mail: “Thank you, OKC. You almost had the most exciting team of the NBA. — Signed, Seattle.”
Exactly. Although I like the way Harden is handling this Jones interview right now (very smooth); I like his bow tie (sharp); and I really like his retro-James Worthy beard (tremendous). He’s definitely one more solid character guy for the Zombies. Logical pick. You know, except for the part where they passed on a guy with Bird-Barry-Magic-Nash-Maravich passing genes.
4:57 — In desperate need of a point guard, Sacramento takes … Tyreke Evans. It’s as if these GMs are trying to hurt me. I feel physically ill.
Tyreke’s weaknesses, according to our ESPN.com Draft Card: “Can be selfish … over-dribbles … lacks consistent range on his jump shot … not a super explosive leaper … poor shot selection.” They left out, “Not a natural point guard,” and “drove a getaway car during a drive-by shooting but was not charged by police.”
4:58 — Shaking my head.
4:58 — Still shaking my head.
4:58 — Bilas loves the pick but says, “He’s a little bit ball-dominant, he needs to have the ball in his hands, and he’s not a good shooter.” Ball-dominant … isn’t that a nice way of calling someone a ball hog? Where is my Jay Bilas Thesaurus?
4:59 — Scott on Evans: “His nickname is ‘Hugo’ because he was born during Hurricane Hugo.” That pick was a natural disaster. Literally.
5:01 — The T-Wolves are on the clock with two straight; hopefully, they’re smart enough to take Rubio, or I’m going to pull out a can of whipped cream and do whip-its until I pass out. Of course, they just flashed the résumé of new GM David Kahn. It’s one for the ages. I threw one fake job in there just for comedy’s sake. See if you can find it.
NBDL (’05-’09): Founder Southwest Basketball
MLB (’03-’04): Oregon Stadium Campaign
Indiana Pacers (’95-’04): GM (’98-’02)
Four Seasons Hotel, Orlando (’95): Valet
Proskauer Rose LLP (’93-’95): Associate
NBC Sports (’90-’95): Consultant, NBA Showtime
Portland Oregonian (’84-’89): NBA sports writer
(Translation: Anything is possible with these two picks. Anything.)
5:01 — As we’re waiting for Sota, instead of making the obligatory Jonas Brothers joke about Rubio, I’m going in a different direction: Why didn’t the “High School Musical” producers hire Rubio for the third movie? He could have played a transfer student from Spain who made Zac Efron feel threatened, briefly dated Vanessa Hudgens, then became friends with them before winning the state title … and everything could have finished with a big dance number. Come on, you’re telling me Rubio wouldn’t have killed with Disney’s audience? Hell, even I think he’s cute, and I’m a heterosexual male with a wife and two kids. Wait, did I say that out loud?
5:03 — Phew. Sota took him. The best part: Stern going into “I’m gonna be extra gregarious right now because they’ll be replaying this in Europe!” mode as he announced the pick. Gotta say, I can’t kill Kahn for turning Randy Foye and Mike Miller into Rubio. Nice work. An orgasmic Fraschilla says Rubio is “the best passer in the last decade of drafts” and he’s “got a Gretzky-like feel, he sees the game two and three plays ahead.” Totally agree.
5:06 — Exchange of the night so far …
Jones: “For the fans that haven’t seen you play, which NBA player do you think you play like?”
Rubio: “I’m Ricky Rubio, I’m not like anyone else.”
(I think I’m borrowing that answer anytime my wife yells at me. “Honey, what do you want from me? I’m Bill Simmons. I’m not like anyone else.”)
5:10 — So much for Minnesota doing the right thing. The Wolves just took Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn … whom I really like … but … well … he’s a point guard. Didn’t they just take Rubio? Did I black out? You’re going to have two young ball handlers playing together — one who’s 5-foot-11, the other who’s 18 years old and weighs 180 pounds (and 30 of that is his hair), and that’s your plan? Who’s guarding the Kobes and Vinces out of those two? Why didn’t they just take Curry? And why aren’t the ESPN guys wondering about a trade here or, at the very least, murdering this pick? THEY JUST TOOK TWO STRAIGHT POINT GUARDS!!!!!!!!!!
5:11 — I’m in “Star Trek II” mode right now. “Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn!!!!!!” So stupid. I’m never trusting a guy who worked as a TV consultant, a sports writer and a stadium campaign organizer to run an NBA team again.
5:12 — Jonny drops a little third person in his interview — we’re on a streak of two right now. Bill Simmons is beside himself.
5:13 — From Ray in Washington: “Help, I can’t breathe. My GM just traded the No. 5 pick for Foye and Miller while passing up Amare (mind you, our center is nicknamed Brenda and our power forward is an undersized 33-year-old). Now I’m watching the draft when, much to my dismay and sheer bewilderment, a team not called the Wizards selected — this is difficult — Ricky Rubio with the fifth pick. Now I’m forced to wish damnation upon this young man and his career for the rest of eternity to make myself feel better about what Ernie Grunfeld has done to us. Make sense of this please. Help.”
(Sorry. I can’t. Rubio is going to haunt you like Stevie Nicks haunts Lindsey Buckingham every time she sings “Silver Springs.” He’s gonna bulge his eyes at you and look crazy and vindictive just like Stevie as he’s wearing a visiting uniform and throwing no-looks in a half-empty Verizon Center. You wait.)
5:15 — A disappointed Stern announces that the Warriors picked Curry — really, it was like the opposite of the Rubio announcement — followed by New York’s crowd reacting like offices in Wall Street after the O.J. verdict. Too bad. “D’Antoni Ball + Curry = magic.” We’ll never know.
(Important Note: There is no bigger Curry fan than I am. He’s going to be a star. I have no doubt. But Curry and Monta Ellis playing together? Two undersized shooting guards? What the hell’s going on there? Why isn’t anyone wondering whether that pick was made for Phoenix as part of an Amare Stoudemire deal? Rattled. I’m rattled right now. This has been a rattling day.)
5:21 — The Knicks settle on Arizona’s Jordan Hill amid boos and jeers from the crestfallen New York fans, and rightfully so — instead of the first Stephen Curry, they ended up with the next Melvin Ely. Here are Hill’s weaknesses according to ESPN.com’s Draft Card: “Needs to add strength … still very raw offensively … needs to add moves in the low post … basketball IQ is low.”
Sounds like a keeper! The good news: Jordan Hill joins the Alexis Rios All-Stars for athletes whose names sound like those of smoking hot supermodels. So there’s that.
5:23 — Hill seems rattled by the booing. His interview with Jones was Nathan Thurm-esque. “I didn’t say I wasn’t happy. Why don’t you think I’m happy?” This isn’t going to end well.
5:25 — Donnie Walsh tries to tell us with a straight face that the Knicks were lucky to be in a position to draft Hill. Come on, Donnie. We know you let out 45 F-bombs when Curry went seventh. Still, I love every Walsh interview — he always looks as if he stepped outside a hotel lounge to have a cigarette with whoever’s interviewing him. Wait, I think he just bought Rachel Nichols a whiskey sour. This is getting interesting.
5:26 — Do I spend the next 15 minutes easily refuting Van Gundy’s claim that Walsh has “proven to be a great judge of talent?” (Thinking.) Screw it. We’re already on pace for 17,000 words. You dodged a bullet there, Jeff.
5:28 — DeMar DeRozan goes ninth to Toronto. That pick left me cold. Should I do my impression of Jay Bilas if he were an “American Idol” judge reviewing an Adam Lambert performance? (Thinking.) Nahhhhhh. Some other time.
5:32 — Milwaukee follows up Tuesday’s big trade (Richard Jefferson for a bag of doughnuts) by taking 19-year-old point guard Brandon Jennings, who averaged 19 minutes a game in Italy last season and gets a “Must Improve: Decision Making” graphic. If Jennings wanted to get paid for a year before he entered the draft, why didn’t he just go to Memphis?
5:34 — Fraschilla on Jennings: “Has to work on a jump shot. No doubt about that. Has to work on the halfcourt and running an offense.” On the bright side, he can now tell the difference between a chianti and a barolo.
5:35 — Bilas on Jennings: “His jump shot is broken, and it needs to be fixed … and I think he needs to improve his leadership abilities.”
5:36 — Simmons on Jennings: “Is there a way I can bet on his being back in Italy within five years?”
5:37 — Andy Katz reports Jennings didn’t come to the draft because his agent was afraid he might not get picked high. That prompts my old college roommate Chip (the only Bucks fan I know) to e-mail, “Is it a bad thing when your team makes a pick at No. 10, and the guy isn’t there because his agent kept him away from the draft room?” Yes. Yes it is.
5:37 — Fresh off exchanging their best player (Vince Carter) for Orlando’s sixth-best player (Courtney Lee), the Nets make amends with their 470 fans by grabbing quirky Louisville swingman Terrence Williams (in my opinion, the last 2009 prospect with a chance to be a top-four guy on a title team). Given that T-Will routinely walked around the Louisville campus wearing SpongeBob pants and a Barbie backpack, it’s as if they drafted a best friend for Brook Lopez. They can go to comic book conventions and dress like “Star Wars” characters together.
5:40 — We see Rick Pitino applauding the pick in the stands. Do Pitino and John Cusack go to the same secret foreign country that regenerates hair? Pitino looks like Michael Landon right now.
5:41 — Damn it! Why did that Williams interview last just 45 seconds? I was looking forward to that all night! That was like spending only 45 seconds talking to CT during a “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” reunion. I’m furious. Such a frustrating draft. Nothing’s going right. Even Ric Bucher’s hair looks off.
5:45 — Charlotte takes Gerald Henderson, a mild shocker since he went to Duke and the Bobcats are run by UNC guys. (I’m not saying this was up there with the Gaza Strip getting settled, but still, mildly shocking.) He hugs his dad, former Boston 1984 Finals hero Gerald Henderson. (Remember, Lakers fans? “Henderson steals the ball!!!!!!!!!!”) By the way, the draft officially dropped off a cliff right before that pick. We’re looking at guys with ceilings of “seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, injury list and Europe” from now on … I only have two guys left that I like.
5:49 — The Indiana Pacers are on the clock … for going bankrupt. And for making a pick. The pick? Tyler Hansbrough. That launches the N.Y. fans into an “Overrated!” frenzy. Hey, I’m excited for Indiana’s 2009-10 local marketing campaign: a photo of Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Foster, Hansbrough and Travis Diener with the UPS-like slogan, “WHAT CAN WHITE DO FOR YOU?”
(All sarcasm aside, I liked the Hansbrough pick. Good seventh man. Like a much better Luke Walton. As Jackson says, he’ll “make every Pacers practice better.” Is that what you want from the 13th pick? Of course not. But this isn’t a normal draft. I keep telling you.)
5:56 — Phoenix takes Earl Clark as Stern blesses the pick by saying, “Earl is not here.” Then, Stern tells us Jennings IS here and asks the crowd to welcome him, followed by Jennings emerging from the back for a “Sorry I wasn’t here earlier; I was afraid I might drop to the mid-20s” handshake. I’m cringing. I’m not even blessing that moment with a “Good God, that’s Brandon Jennings’ music!” joke.
5:56 — “Well, hello, Brandon!” Chip e-mails me. “Is that better or worse that we took a guy who was late for the draft?” Um … worse. Definitely worse.
5:57 — Bilas somehow gets through a minute analysis of Clark without comparing him to either Lamar Odom or Tim Thomas (as so many have), which in NBA-speak means, “Uniquely talented forward, drifts through games, might fail a drug test or two, will get at least two coaches fired, might put it together for a couple of months right before free agency to earn himself a $35 million contract from the Clippers.” I’m head-over-heels excited for the Earl Clark era. Tons of possibilities.
(Question: Have you ever been let down by someone named Earl? Earls are always entertaining in some way. Earl Monroe, Earl Weaver, Earl Campbell, Earl Cureton, Earl Hickey, Earl Boykins, Judge Earl Warren, the Earl of Sandwich … I can’t believe I haven’t named a dog Earl yet.)
5:58 — Jones gets Jennings for an interview but never asks why he showed up four picks late. A few seconds later, Bilas raves about Clark’s “pull-up-ability.”
6:02 — I watched Gonzaga maybe 12 times over the past two years. At no point did I ever say, “That Austin Daye, he’s gonna be a top-20 pick.” I said things like, “He reminds me of a right-handed Brad Lohaus” and “He’s like Brian Cook if Cook battled dysentery and lost 45 pounds, then left the hospital and immediately tried to play.” Anyway, he just went 15th to Detroit.
6:06 — Dick Vitale talking. Dick Vitale talking. Dick Vitale talking. Dick Vitale talking.
6:08 — There have been 29 NBA players named “James” and 55 players named “Johnson.” Somehow, we’ve never had a “James Johnson.” Now we do. Chicago just took him 16th. I’m glad I’m here.
6:10 — Interesting interview with Steve Kerr — he made it seem as if the Suns are blowing it up and said “We’re in transition right now” two separate times. Also, I’d like to welcome him to the Tony La Russa All-Stars for “Guys Who Never Seem To Age.” In fact, he’s going backward. He looks younger than he did 12 years ago. Maybe he’s the captain of the Benjamin Button All-Stars. I need to think about this more.
6:13 — Jrue Holiday goes to the Sixers and, more importantly, wins the Rashard Lewis “Last Guy In The Green Room” Award. In 27 minutes per game as a freshman, Holiday averaged 8.5 points and more turnovers (3.8) than assists (3.7). On the bright side, he made 30.7 percent of his 3s. Wait, that’s not good. That’s your 17th pick. I’m wrapping this up soon.
6:19 — Minnesota’s choice of Ty Lawson (one of my two remaining favorites) just gave me the same look I had when I found out earlier today that Jackson had died. Did the Wolves really just take three point guards in the top 18? Has that ever happened before? Is David Kahn trying to go small and just got confused? And how will Chris Wallace up the Dumb GM ante?
6:21 — Damn. Bucher is reporting Lawson is headed to Denver for a future protected No. 1 pick. That was a fun two minutes while it lasted. As reader Rob from Chicago joked later, “It was like an online fantasy draft and someone mistakenly put their settings on ‘best player available auto-pilot.'”
6:23 — Atlanta takes Jeff Teague and sends Bilas into “wingspan-explosive” autopilot. I’m bummed that nobody has taken DeJuan Blair yet. I had 12 jokes about how he doesn’t have any ACLs ready to go. What do I do with them? Can I return them?
6:26 — Utah grabs my last favorite player in the draft: Eric Maynor. Why do I love him? He has been handling the rock since he was probably 2. He hasn’t played a game since junior high in which the other guys didn’t immediately agree, “That guy is the point guard.” He’s old-school. You could say he has “ownership” of that position. He’s not a converted shooting guard or a long-range shooter who brings the ball up or even a short fast guy who plays point because he couldn’t play anywhere else. He’s a pure point. He owns it. Complete control at all times. That’s why I like him. Solid pick. It’s all about backups and foreign dudes from here on.
6:30 — Larry Brown finishes an interview with Scott, then goes upstairs to yell at Jack, Chrissy and Janet. (Waiting.) You’re right … too dated. Nobody under 30 got that one. Damn. I’m old.
6:30-6:50 — Sorry, I was eating leftover pasta during this stretch. The CliffsNotes version: Darren Collison to New Orleans; Victor Claver to Portland (yet another talented foreign player for the Blazers to stash); a bumpy Shaq interview with Lisa Salters that Shaq started by sending his condolences to the Jackson family; Omri Casspi (the Israeli Matt Harpring) to Sacramento; B.J. Mullens (this year’s token white center who will bounce around for eight years without ever making a dent) to Dallas; Rodrigue Beaubois (the French Leandro Barbosa) to the Zombies; and Taj Gibson to Chicago. The highlight: Gibson getting this year’s “Must Improve: Shooting in traffic” graphic instead of Tyreke Evans.
6:57 — Well, we made history with four draft picks tonight: First pick born in the 1990s (Rubio); first pick from Tanzania (Thabeet), first first-round pick from Israel (Casspi), and first pick to show up four picks later than he was picked (Jennings).
7:06 — After last year’s controversial pick of someone rumored to have kidney problems (Darrell Arthur), Memphis grabs a guy who doctors say might need a liver transplant within the next 25 years (DeMarre Carroll). I feel as though Chris Wallace is trying to provoke me.
7:11 — How funny would it have been if Minnesota had taken a fourth point guard? I would have peed myself. Alas, the Wolves took Wayne Ellington — not bad for this late. Oh, who am I kidding? That was another “Terminator 3” Blu-Ray pick. It’s almost over.
7:15 — A classic moment: Katz sets up the breaking news of a Knicks-Grizzlies deal as every Knicks fan gets fired up for 2.74 seconds… and the trade turns out to be Darko Milicic straight up for Quentin Richardson. That slayed me. Darko on the Knicks?!? How great is this? It’s as though they’re setting up the Weight Watchers before and after pictures for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons: Darko in the first, LeBron in the second.
7:17 — The Lakers sell the 29th pick to the Knicks for cash considerations and pick Toney Douglas. Great name. He sounds like an ESPN Classic fighter. Did we ever figure out what “cash considerations” means? If I buy a TV from Best Buy, can I tell them that I’d like to pay with cash considerations? What would happen? Could I just walk out of the store with the TV?
7:22 — After inexplicably gushing about the Shaq trade for the third time, Scott throws to Stern for the final pick of the first round. And …
No sign of Stern …
No sign …
No sign …
(These things comes in threes! Please don’t tell me he’s the third one after Farrah and Jackson!)
(Phew. There he is. That wasn’t funny)
Our last first-round pick? Congo star Christian Eyenga, who pulls a Sam Dalembert by popping out of the stands for a Stern handshake. Love when that happens! Weird night. Too much death. Too many bad picks. Too much weirdness. Too much unpredictablity and incompetence. Too many lousy picks. Too much David Kahn. I’m rattled.
One last thought: It felt strange to write a Draft Diary one hour after a momentous celebrity death. I have Jackson’s passing ranked as the fourth-biggest celeb death of my lifetime, right behind Elvis, Lennon and Princess Di and just ahead of JFK Jr. and Matt LeBlanc’s career. Just an eerie way to start an event that’s supposed to be fun.
My buddy Gus said it best via e-mail: “Thriller is the only album I ever owned where I remember where I was and my reaction to hearing it for the first time. Your basement.” Of course, I e-mailed him back by joking, “That’s the first time Michael Jackson has landed in a positive story about two teenage boys and a basement in about 20 years.” But Gus was right. Before he went off the deep end, Jackson was definitely one of those rare, “I specifically remember moments of my life that he was involved in” celebrities. I’m going to miss him. I wish the 2009 NBA draft had happened on another night. Alas.