Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Spurs Win 2007 NBA Draft Lottery

The 2006 NBA draft lottery was conducted on Tuesday, with the Toronto Raptors emerging with the #1 overall pick. With no clear-cut choice for the top selection, it is unknown whom Toronto will choose - if they even decide to keep the pick. What is certain is that the Raptors will not be able to duplicate Orlando’s 1992 and 1993 feat of winning consecutive lotteries. The NBA made certain of that by announcing that the San Antonio Spurs have won the 2007 NBA draft lottery.

While the announcement stunned many observers, commissioner David Stern insisted that it was only a formality. Stern noted that San Antonio won the lottery in both 1987 and 1997, so it’s a foregone conclusion that the same scenario would unfold in 2007. Also, the Spurs know to win the lottery when a future Hall of Fame big man is the prize – David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997. Next year’s projected top selection – incoming Ohio State freshman Greg Oden – is just as coveted by NBA franchises. On the other hand, 1989 was the Spurs’ only other lottery appearance. With Pervis Ellison winding up as the top pick, San Antonio did not bother winning on that occasion.

The decision brightened an otherwise gloomy week for the Spurs, who were eliminated in a classic seven-game series by the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. Some observers charge that Stern was attempting to upstage his frequent critic – Dallas owner Mark Cuban – with the timing of the announcement. Cuban has not been reached for comment, but officials from the Atlanta Hawks have already blistered the commissioner. Since no one cares about the Atlanta Hawks, reporters are waiting on Cuban’s press conference this afternoon in Dallas. The Mavericks owner will reportedly unload bags of money onto a table, representing payment for the fine he will get for his subsequent remarks.

Stern’s critics charge that you cannot place a team in the following year’s lottery - before the season has even been played. The commissioner responded that the NBA has done this for years with the Los Angeles Clippers. “You can’t have an NBA draft lottery without the Clippers, so we always reserve a spot for them in advance.” Told that the Clippers were not part of Tuesday’s lottery, Stern replied, “Dude, stop pulling my leg.” The reporter insisted that the Clippers had indeed made the playoffs and won a first round series. The commissioner answered in a patronizing voice, “Of course they did – in Crazyland.”

Before officially receiving the top selection, San Antonio still has the obligation of missing next year’s playoffs. That outcome may appear unlikely for a team that won 63 games in the regular season and captured three championships in the past seven years. However, two of the team’s stars have vowed to do their part. Guard Tony Parker will only be a part-time player, spending much of his time as girlfriend Eva Longoria’s new gardener on Desperate Housewives. Duncan plans to sit out the NBA season and play minor league baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization.

Since the lottery was instituted in 1985, Robinson and Duncan are the only #1 overall selections to win an NBA title with the team that drafted them. The Spurs expect Oden to follow suit. The resulting victory parades will bring jubilation to the franchise. And so will the 2017 draft lottery.