Boston or Atlanta Needs to Win the Lottery
The NBA draft lottery is tonight and for the first time since LeBron James was a Hummer-driving high-school prodigy, the league is clamoring to get a potentially franchise-changing star. In the the past two drafts, the No. 1 picks have been Andrew Bogut and Andrea Bargnani. They weren't booby prizes, just two decent players who cannot seriously qualify as the ultimate prize. Greg Oden and Kevin Durant? Now that's another story.
So, teams are bringing Lucky Charms of all sorts - rabbit's feet, pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, blue diamonds and green clovers - to Secaucus, N.J., in hopes of landing a player who can either help you win some championships (Oden) or provide an immediate boost to ticket sales (Durant). Depending on your goal, you really cannot lose. Unless, that is, you lose and don't get one of the top two picks.
I'm rooting for either the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks to win the No. 1 pick. I know Memphis has the best chance of winning the pick, and Milwaukee has the third-most ping-pong balls, but Boston and Atlanta - heck, the whole Eastern Conference - really needs some help. Does anybody really want to see Greg Oden leading the Memphis Grizzlies to multiple championships over the next 10, 15 years? And, Milwaukee had the No. 1 pick two years ago in 2005 - and drafted Bogut. They don't need another break.
Twisting Rick Pitino's words, some: Here's hoping Gred Oden is walking through that door. I don't want Boston to get Oden because Celtics fans have been crying for 10 years about missing out on Tim Duncan in 1997; as if they were entitled to him or something. That town needs a better basketball team. My wife used to live in Boston and I know how passionate fans in that city are about their teams. It's been shameful how hard that franchise has fallen since Bird, Parish and McHale retired. If the Celtics, Lakers or Knicks are winning, that's good for the league, no matter what anybody says.
I just want Celtics fans to stop whining. It's the same feeling I had in 2004 when Red Sox fans kept howling about being cursed when they had a $100 million payroll. Give them the ring already. Give the Celtics Oden already.
They obviously spent an entire season trying to get him (Remember this quote from Celtics forward Ryan Gomes the last week of the regular season? "I probably (would have played), but since we were in the hunt for a high draft pick, of course things are different. I understand that. Hopefully things get better. Now that we clinched at least having the second-most balls in the lottery, the last three games we'll see what happens.").
Every time Duncan's name comes up, Celtics fans go beserk - and the latest cover of the Sporting News doesn't help. You never hear fans in Philadelphia crying about not getting Duncan. The 76ers won the No. 2 pick in 1997, drafted Keith Van Horn and traded him for Tim Thomas. Talk about reasons to cry. Just think if Philadelphia had won Duncan one year after drafting Allen Iverson. Think A.I. would still be chasing a ring in vain?
As for the Hawks, Atlanta has had no luck when it comes to the lottery. The only time the Hawks had the No. 1 pick, they drafted a small forward from North Carolina State named David Thompson in 1975. Thompson instead signed with the Denver Nuggets of the ABA.
If the Hawks get one of the top two picks this year, there is no chance they can blow it like 2005, when Hawks general manager Billy Knight passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams (don't you like that kid the more you watch him?)
The Hawks have been bad for a long time. With Golden State breaking through this season, they have the league's longest run of playoff futility - eight years - yet they've never gotten the top pick. The franchise is in shambles, and if they fail to finish in the top three, the pick goes to Phoenix as part of the Joe Johnson trade, which means that Atlanta will be awful for another five, six years. Philips Arena is a beautiful building but it has been empty since it opened in 1999.
Atlanta is a star-driven town. How else do you explain their unyielding support of Michael Vick? The Hawks really need Oden or Durant (But you just know that the pick is going to Phoenix and the Suns are going wind up with Joakim Noah or Corey Brewer. The rich always get richer).
. . . I think some people got confused with my blog yesterday. Either that, or they have never watched the Phoenix Suns play basketball. Just because I want to be entertained doesn't mean that I don't want to see team ball. Anyone who has watched Phoenix knows that they play entertaining team ball. Steve Nash shares the ball better than anyone in the league. The Suns have great ball movement. Their players move without the ball. They take good, quality shots. They don't showboat. They just score points quickly. And, contrary to popular belief, they can play defense. They held the Spurs below 90 twice in that series.
There is no crime in wanting to see a team game played at a faster pace. It doesn't mean that I don't like the NBA. It just gets harder to sell the league to people who really don't like the NBA without the element of entertainment. I got hooked on the NBA watching the Showtime Lakers. I accept the current situation. I tolerate it. I watch it. But I don't have to like it. I picked San Antonio to win the title, so I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that without Phoenix, the fun is over now. I think Mike Wise nailed it with his column today.
. . .I was a little off when I predicted that the Pistons-Cavaliers series would come down to the first team to 80 wins. I had know idea the magic number was 78.
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