The Draft's Final Death Spiral
Here's what happens at the end of the NBA Draft. Basically, all the people in the suits leave at some point near the beginning of the second round. Then all the people with nice jerseys leave. Then all the people with moderately stained jerseys leave. Then everyone else pours into the front rows. And by the end, there are a few hundred teenagers, college students, and various inebriated Knicks and Sixers fans left to chant for various obscure players they'd like to see drafted, and also to howl fruitlessly at the ESPN studio crew.
"We love you Mark, we love you Mark," they yelled at Mark Jackson during a commercial break. "Mark, we're from New York, we love you Mark, we love you," one kid carried on, a soloist breaking off from his chorus. "Don't do any more Nets games. Don't do any more Nets games. Who is Ian Eagle? Who is Ian Eagle? We have Mike Breen. Come to the Garden. Come to the Garden."
Then he stopped, and everyone clapped for his monologue. Then security came up. "Second warning," the said. "Third you're gone." Then the crowd booed. "Sorry," the kid said. Then some young lady in a cocktail dress stumbled by; "I need a beer," she said.
[Note: Henry Abbott from True Hoop just encouraged me to read the Joakim Noah transcript, particularly this part: "You'll see me tonight when I walk out the Garden," Noah said. "My swag will be of an NBA player." Henry said if he ever leaves his wife, it'll be for Joakim Noah, who, when asked if not going to the Knicks was bittersweet, said "it's all sweet, like the sweetest candy ever."]
Anyhow, then the deputy commissioner came out and said "The Golden State Warriors select..." and some fans started shouting "IT DOESN'T MATTER." Greg Oden walked by for some reason, shaking hands with fans; someone in a suit trailed him, carrying several massive bunches of roses. The kids who slapped his hand promised never to wash them.
And then I finally found some Wizards fans, from Falls Church; one wore an Arenas jersey, one a Michael Jordan Wizards t-shirt and one a Georgetown t-shirt. The PA system played "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," and the Knicks fans sang along, and the Wiz kids began chanting "Marc Gasol," since it was the Wiz's turn to pick in the second round. The Wiz took Fresno State forward Dominic McGuire.
"Who the [bleep] is that," asked Arenas jersey, aka Paul Carrillo.
"What position is that?" asked Jordan t-shirt, aka Dave Cloyd.
Carrillo told me he hadn't seen any other Wizards garb in the Garden, but that his Arenas jersey had proved popular; "the chicks love the Wizards, girls dig Arenas," he assured me.
Then Carrillo, who now lives in Brooklyn and goes to Knicks games at the Garden, began explaining how much help D.C. needs, fan-wise.
"I was trying to explain it to them," he said. "D.C.'s all white-collar, it's not cool to stand up and cheer. Here the team could be 1-15, and people will boo and boo and boo, but if they go on a run, people will stand up and cheer their team. That's the thing that sucks about Washington."
I can't disagree. Moments later, the Knicks fan who had been screaming at Mark Jackson was finally kicked out. His friends left, too, even though it was unclear whether they had actually been asked to leave. The crowd sang the "Hey hey hey, Goodbye," song.
"See, this would never happen in Washington," Carrillo said. "We wouldn't have even made it down here. Security would have been like, 'You don't have the right tickets'."
Can't argue with that either. The Wizards guys gave their take on the draft--an ok start for the Wiz, but they need to do more--and then they left and some other guys got my attention. This guy Jared wanted me to write about his friend, James Tchana, whom Jared insisted was the future of the NBA. James Tchana, naturally, turns out to have been the former Fresno State roommate of Dominic McGuire, and also the former AAU roommate of Andray Blatche. I asked for a McGuire scouting report.
"Man, he's a cool cat," James said. "That's my boy. He likes music, he likes to dance, he's funny as hell. He's all funny all the time. He's a good leader, though. He's a role model. He always pushes the guys, he always looks out for the guys. He will dunk on a lot of people in the NBA."
That sounded promising. Also this: "At Fresno State, they wanted him to play the 1, the 2, 3, 4, 5, because he can play any position," James told me. "He handles the ball like a guard, he can shoot, he posts up. I mean, he blocks shots, he rebounds, he can do everything. He's got a big heart, too."
I asked about Blatche, and James was high on him, too, which I guess is natural for a former roommate.
"You saw how he's coming up, so this year, he's gonna take over," James said. "Do I look like I'm joking? He's gonna take over. I told him, man, you need to bruise everybody."
I wished James well; later, I saw him buying NBA Draft 2007 t-shirts out in the lobby.
In the meantime, the Spurs took Greek forward Giorgos Printezis, who was still sitting in the Garden, the last prospect remaining, and he got a standing ovation from the "crowd." Then the Suns took D.J. Strawberry, and the fans went nuts, chanting "Dar-ryl, Dar-ryl," the whole bit. Then they chanted "Let's Go Mets." Then someone started shouting "Let's Go Yankees."
ESPN's Andy Katz told me that as he was walking to the media area after the last pick had been made, he passed Printezis, in his Miami Vice attire, walking around the Garden and talking on his cell phone. "I was like, 'Who was that guy? - Oh yeah, he just got drafted'," Katz said. I'm telling you, the Draft's Death Spiral is odd.
Oh, and there was that older woman, walking around in the tight white dress, completely covered with strange NBA-related placards, but I didn't have the energy to ask her exactly what she was doing.
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