Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year. No, it wasn’t my birthday or the night I bet my buddy that Dirk Nowitzki would go H.A.M. Rather, last night was the 27th annual NBA Draft Lottery at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, N.J. (And if you know me, it takes a special occasion to willingly travel across the river.) With Commissioner David Stern in the house along with representatives from the 12 teams in the Lottery, go behind the scenes to relive the experience.
First off, finding your way to the NBA Entertainment offices is a mission in itself. From Dime HQ, you have to go to the “saddest place on Earth” – also known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal – and hop on the 320 bus to Harmon Meadow. But once you arrive, it’s worth the trip.
In addition to being one of the few attendees not wearing a suit, I was the only guy there wearing a fresh pair of Nike Zoom KD IIs. But fresh kicks became a theme for the night, as Dan Gilbert‘s son, Nick Gilbert, was wearing a suit, bow tie and a black/purple pair of Jordan CP3.IVs. Afterwards he told me that his mother packed dress shoes that didn’t fit.
Scanning the room, I saw Bryan Colangelo, Kevin Johnson and Joe Dumars all milling about. But really the person I wanted to see the most was my dude Jay Bilas – a big Dime fan – with a Bud Light in his hand. (I later found out he was in the studio, but I saw him indulge after everything was done.)
So while everyone was chatting in the tent, dreaming about what it would be like to win the Lottery, Kyrie Irving entered the scene like Cindy Crawford in her legendary Pepsi commercial. It was like lions in the Serengeti eyeing their prey. Once in the studio, Irving sat front row with his agent and was actually interviewed on camera by ESPN. I can’t ever remember a time when a future draft pick was actually in the studio for the Lottery, but Irving is from Jersey.
Before heading in for the taping, I was able to chat with Irving, John Wall and Greg Monroe who were all sitting at one table, as well as Kyle Lowry. Last year, the Rockets sent Aaron Brooks and his big glasses for good luck and he seemed bored out of his mind. I’m pretty sure Lowry felt the same way. But probably the coolest guy I spoke with all night was Paul Silas. A gentle giant, Silas was probably the most laid-back guy in the whole place.
Once inside, you could see that the Cavs had luck on their side. Other than letting his 14-year-old son sit in for him, Gilbert brought Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs and cornerback Joe Haden and gave them wine-and-gold No. 11 Cavs jerseys.
Other funny things from inside the studio: Monroe was not necessarily a fan of getting foundation put on his face before the broadcast, KJ used the word “tuggles” David Kahn spent a long time talking with Nick Gilbert before the start, perhaps working out some sort of trade for Ricky Rubio.
The great thing about the Lottery is that once a team leapfrogs to the top, you know it. And last night, the most devastated fans must have been sitting at home in Los Angeles and New Jersey, watching their picks move up in the draft. Without trades, it’s crazy to think that the Clippers and Nets could be sitting with top-3 picks right now.
Note: The odds of the Cavs’ selection via the Clippers becoming the No. 1 overall pick were 28 out of 1000, or 2.8 percent. LeBron who?
With that, check out some pictures from the night:
John Wall and Kyrie Irving
Paul Silas and David Stern
Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden