Jackpot

The 2007 NBA Draft Lottery was the most hyped in recent memory, including the draft that brought LeBron James. The draft class has two potential franchise players that can turn a team around quickly, in Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Some players and media accused teams, notably the Celtics and Grizzlies, of tanking games down the stretch, an absolute no-no in professional sports, to improve the likelihood of scoring one of the top prizes. And the possibility of another chapter in the Isiah Thomas saga. The Bulls own the Knicks draft pick without any lottery protection, so Chicago gets it even if it is the top pick. Eddy Curry for Greg Oden would go down in Knick infamy.

In New York, outside of the most die-hard Knick fans, everyone seemed to be rooting against Isiah, hoping for the Bulls to score a top pick. The number of phone calls to talk radio in regards to the 1.9% chance was amazing. Alas, there was no miracle, disappointing the number of growing Knick detractors.

The lottery was not short of surprises, though. For the first time since 1993, none of the three worst teams will pick in the Top 3. Portland, who fittingly one year ago had the worst record but got the fourth pick, hit the jackpot, while Seattle received the consolation prize. Celtics representative Tom Heinsohn’s face and immediate response, if you can lip-read, were priceless. Ten years after losing the Tim Duncan lottery, the Celts may have to watch another all-time center collect championships with another team. Jerry West, out-going President, of the other big loser, Memphis, claimed the lottery process was flawed, though he said it was not sour grapes. West takes the crown for double talk. If the lottery is flawed, why not say something before finding out your team missed the two prizes. I expect better from the NBA logo.

Off the court, two points. Portland and Seattle, both struggling franchises with Portland’s front office mess and Seattle’s new stadium battle and threats to move, will catch a revenue windfall. CNBC’s Darren Rovell did an interesting analysis showing that teams stand to net over $6 million through increased ticket sales, potential playoff games, and the ancillary concession benefits from having more fans. From the league perspective, many pundits say Stern and the NBA lost by having both stars land in relative small markets on the West Coast. With today’s proliferation of media, and the hype each player is receiving from Day One, it will be interesting to see if they can overcome the anonymity of their cities to be faces of the league. I think they can. For those who are yelling about the 10:30 start times, does anyone realize what time zone Kobe Bryant plays in, and where Shaq played during his prime?

….Sadly the lottery generated more fan interest, and probably more suspense, than both Conference Finals series combined

…With ratings down a whopping 15% on TNT during the playoffs, thanks to the low quality play, lack of competitiveness in each series, and the scheduling, in my opinion, how does the league not play on Wednesday or Friday this week? Why? Someone has to explain that reason to me. There is no reason to take more than one-day off between games, unless it’s a long travel day, but the Cavs-Pistons had a day off and they did not even change cities.

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