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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.

By Michael Lee  |  May 22, 2007; 12:52 PM ET
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Next: Poor East, Oden And Durant Going West


You can't help but understand the Celtics fans feeling they got screwed they had one of the highest percentage of ping-pong balls in that draft because they had there own plus another team's that was in the top six and lost out to San Antonio who I think that had the fifth-most ping pong balls.
That said it would be fun to see Atlanta get one of the big two because that means Wizards fans get to see them four times year, twice in D.C. And I definately am down for Durant or Oden's first game in D.C.

Posted by: George Templeton | May 22, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Rooting for the Celtics to win the Lottery is like rooting for Matthew McConaughey to score. Let's go Memphis!

Posted by: Sean | May 22, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'd love to see Atlanta win the lottery and have Oden in the Wizards' division. I'm sure Haywood or Etan would have no problem with him.

Mike, you realize you're writing on WIZARDS INSIDER?

Posted by: tp | May 22, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Sure the Celtics and their fans have a lot to whine about. But their downfall could likely be traced to June 19, 1986, when Len Bias overdosed on cocaine in Washington Hall at U-Md.

That cost the Celtics another 4-5 years of dominance of the East and competitiveness with the Showtime Lakers.

We also might not have seen the Bad Boy Pistons break through at the end of the decade, and Michael Jordan definitely would not have had the run he had in the 90s.

Just think how much more popular the NBA could have been back then if not for the events of that night.

Even so, I still would rather a Western team get the top pick. Having Oden in the East, and especially with the Hawks, would spell trouble for the Wizards in a big hurry.

Posted by: iceberg | May 22, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

And the NBA is getting what it deserves. San Antonio's a good team, but I really wanted to see Phoenix vs. Utah or GS in the conference final.

PHO/GS would have been like that crazy Dallas/Phoenix (or Dallas/Sacramento?)series back in 2003: STR8 BALLIN'.

Now I get a decent night's sleep from avoiding the West finals.

In the East... Go Pistons... zzzzzzz...

Posted by: iceberg | May 22, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Praise the Lord Micheal! Scoring in the 70's has very little to do with defense and alot to do with limiting both teams shots with offensive pace. It leads to some really offensive games to watch.
A team can score 100+ points a game and be a very good defensive team and play and interesting fun brand of basketball. The NBA has had a hard time getting it's veteran officals to change how they call games as we get deeper into the playoffs.
I know it is a tough job because as things happen in a seven game series the intensity ratches up and players tend to get more physical. But the league needs to work harder at limiting the stuff that alot of these guys resort to that hinders any offensive flow in the game.
What's a foul in Nov. or early Dec. never gets noticed in the playoffs. And things that officals will be cautioning guys about early ever year goes out the window come playoff time. I like good hard physical play, but it's all of this little stuff that players do to imped the movement of offensive players that slow these games to a crawl.
Then instead of a skilled move you get offensive players trying to get to the hoop with brute strength. And we wonder why we're getting beat in International Competition. As wonderful of a player as LaBron is are his skills developing to be what the should in this kind of play?

Posted by: GM | May 22, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's where I don't understand part of Celtics' fan whining. (And forgive me if I don't know the full history of Len Bias.) Len Bias was a great player in college. But (1) the Celtics picked a guy who used drugs; and (2) if he didn't die that night, they would have had a player who used cocaine, and thus there is no guarantee that he would have been a great player. Celtics fan always lament that Bias would have been the next Michael Jordan. Maybe. But he might have been the next Michael Ray Richardson.

Posted by: Joe | May 22, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Mike Lee, I'm with you. The rest can say whatever they want. They have to be confused.

If the darn "games" weren't supposed to be entertaining - then they wouldn't call it
"SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT" Its the sister to "Big Business" and the rest of you are snoozing if you think it isn't. To add to it - the Suns play great team ball. Great!! not mediocre. All run by the little floor general..Nash.

The "whining" is all part of the script that "comes with the game and is a regular practice. The player's "challenge" is to get what they want without raising the ref's ire. Flopping, hack a shaqing, bows are all "paint techniques" that have been fine honed to a tee by the players. Approved by the "players assoc." Over time, ref's are learning to distinguish
"real from memorex - at least most teams pray so. Even Eddie flew off his handle because of officiating as do many coaches.
But I don't recall Pop questioning very much and thus - the refs didn't manage to see a player getting a knee to the "ouch" groin and the blantant body slam etc. But I digress.

I'd bet anything Stern was celebrating when Nellie's bunch of scrubs shut Mark Cuban's mouth. ESPN had the camera focused on Cuban the entire final portion of every game. "Big Business and Entertainment" is the reason. Stern has been sick of Cuban's mouth for a long, long, Long, time. Prob bought Nellie a beer.

For me the Suns losing if it said anything - it would be that a solid big man and a bit more D may have "run" them right over the top. But alas another year ended at the second round which should send signals to Golden State and the Suns owners They will need some real tweeking to move to level 3. Nash may not be around much longer. He's 34 and getting frustrated. He was frustrated last year and is growing more so and openly expresses his frustrations.

If it were doable - it would not surprise me if Cuban asked Nash back if he thought it would get him over the top. Desperation for a title will do strange things to a wild rich man.

Luv ya Mike.

They always make for entertainment.

Posted by: Robin | May 22, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I have a feeling Chicago's gonna get the first pick (through the Knicks Curry trade) and the Knicks fans will go all "28 days later" on us

Posted by: Deepak | May 22, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

The NBA is no longer appealing to the majority of Americans. There are several reasons for this: showboating, lack of fundamentals, thugery, and the NBA killing the golden gose by taking college players who are not ready for the NBA, lacking maturity and talent. So bye bye NBA nice knowin' ya.

Posted by: bkfan | May 22, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Best. Lottery. Ever. Justice to tankers.
Too bad ESPN didn't have a camera filming Paul Pierce's reaction.

Posted by: Sean | May 22, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse


Maybe they'll have a "throwback flashback" on draft day and select LaRue Martin...

Posted by: iceberg | May 22, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse


Maybe the Blazers will have a "throwback flashback" on draft day and pick LaRue Martin...

Posted by: iceberg | May 22, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse

As I said earlier, if Atlanta gets both picks, they'll be likely to deal. Now that they got #3, which I'm very happy that the Suns crybabies didn't get into the lottery, they may be more likely to do some deals, which will benefit Les BouleS, who have some good veteran leadership (AD and AJ) to give up.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 22, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Such an idiot

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Suns blow. Stoudemire and Diaw are so dumb they cost their team a shot at the championship. Too bad, so sad.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 22, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Why oh why do we have to be entertained by the "King Kong of Idiots, DCMan88?"

Lord Jesus, give this fool something else to do. Thank You, Amen.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Why would we want to give up Ad or AJ?

Only for a serious Big? Maybe? Where did that come from?

I thought Gil asked Abe & Ernie to keep at least the starting 5 or am I mistaken?

Posted by: Rob | May 23, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

King kong of fools dumps anonymous like a smelly turd. Busy commenting about posters rather than having anything insightful to say about sports. It's too bad you're anonymous though, cuz I send the loony train to your house and put you on suicide watch after your suns choked. They did it to themselves and deserved it. Go home and cry on your momma's shoulder and ask for nips.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 23, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Why would we want to give up Ad or AJ?

Only for a serious Big? Maybe? Where did that come from?

I thought Gil asked Abe & Ernie to keep at least the starting 5 or am I mistaken?

Posted by: Rob | May 23, 2007 10:54 AM "

Why would we keep AJ and/or AD? Where did Les BouleS finish in the playoffs with both of them playing? How did the season end with Caron and Gilby out and these guys manning the fort?

Les BouleS got creamed in the playoffs where they laid an egg, despite the valiant efforts of these two guys. Status quo don't work.

Posted by: DC Man88 | May 23, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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