NBA Draft Lottery Conspiracy
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 3:05 PM
Who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory? Ever since its inception in 1985, the NBA Draft Lottery
conspiracy ranks up there with the JFK Assassination, UFOs, and for the extreme nut jobs, September 11th.
Lee Harvey Oswald, Roswell, and Patrick Ewing?
Between 1985-1989, the lottery consisted of each non-playoff team's logo placed in a separate envelope and positioned in a manually cranked "drum" to further mix-up the process.
In 1985, the draft prize was Georgetown center Patrick Ewing. A player deemed as an instant star that would bolster fan and financial interest, especially in a big market place like say, New York.
I don't want to speculate too much on this issue for fear I end up in the trunk of a car, but view the video above. You will see commissioner David Stern take a deep breath just before he reaches his hand into the bowl and flip over a few envelopes before pulling out what will eventually be revealed as the New York Knicks.
Some theorists say the Knicks envelope was frozen or cooled to allow Stern to easily identify his target (market), while others maintain he felt around the bowl for a bent corner.
Play the YouTube video and freeze it at 47 seconds. You will see the bottom right corner of the envelope looking like a utility bill that sat on the floor of my car for a month.
Speaking of car, I don't want to fear for my life every time I turn on the ignition, so I will end my Ewing theory there.
In 1990, the NBA switched to a weighted format that would give teams with the worst records better odds at securing a top pick. Over-sized envelopes were replaced with numbered ping-pong balls.
The first hint of irregularity since Ewing came in 1993 with favoritism toward the Orlando Magic.
The previous year, the Magic selected center Shaquille O'Neal with the first overall pick (15% odds), but now "Big Diesel" needed a running mate.
The Magic once again won the overall pick in the "random" drawing, this time with 1.5% odds. They selected Chris Webber and traded the Michigan star to Golden State in exchange for Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway.
Now Shaq had his star point guard and the NBA had the pieces for a budding market in Florida.
It wasn't until 2003 that the NBA lottery system began peaking my interest as a possible "fixing".
Since then, I haven't wavered on my opinion, even if other people call ME the nut job. My suspicions have increased especially in recent years with NBA financial developments, the Tim Donaghy situation, as well as the recent occurrences in the last few draft lotteries.
The prize of the 2003 draft was a high school kid from Akron, Ohio named LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers notably "tanked" a large number of games (17 wins) during the 2002 season to have a shot, 22.50% to be exact, at drafting the hometown James.
Now it's reasonable to assume the Cavs earned the #1 pick by having the best odds, but this was the first time since 1990 that the team with the worst record received the top pick.
It also seems ironic it came at a time when the Cleveland franchise was in dire shape, and a local phenom just happened to be the "The Chosen One" that year.
My conspiracy theory shows flaws from 2004-2006.
In 2004 the Orlando Magic received the #1 overall pick (25% odds) after compiling the worst record in the NBA, selecting high school phenom Dwight Howard.
In 2005 and 2006 there were not any clear-cut elite players at the top of the draft, so the NBA covered it's ass by allowing the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, two smaller market teams, to hold the top draft position respectively.
The Bucks went on to draft Andrew Bogut, while the Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani, both solid players, but no where near superstars in the league.These back to back events allow the NBA to hypothetically claim "see, teams with all odds and backgrounds can claim the top spot and the lottery is truly a random process that works."
The 2007 NBA Draft Lottery is the third most "sketch" in terms of possible rigging since the inception.
The northwestern part of the United States was struggling to attract basketball fans and their revenue at this time. The Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Supersonics were both on the verge of leaving their cities or collapsing financially.
Two of the biggest draft names since James were the two most coveted that year, Greg Oden (1A) and Kevin Durant (1AA)
The NBA is "Where Amazing Happens" and that's exactly what happened on May 22, 2007.
The Blazers with a 5.3% chance won the top pick, while the Supersonics with a 9% chance, landed the second pick.
While Oden has not lived up to the hype due to injury and the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City with Durant as a star, the Durant-Oden sweepstakes have no doubt turned the franchises in the right direction.
The following year, 2008, was even more bogus in terms of crying foul! The highly touted freshman playing for Memphis was also from Chicago, Illinois.
Enter the Chicago Bulls, who had yet to recover from the retirement of Michael Jordan, yet were still in a big market with a huge following.
It took Stern all of two seconds to realize that a player like Rose would instantly help the hometown franchise similar to the way James did in Cleveland.
The Bulls had a 1.7% chance of obtaining the top pick, (or the same odds the Cubs have of winning the World Series) and sure enough, Chicago was revealed ahead of teams like Minnesota, Memphis, Milwaukee, and Charlotte.
The NBA was back at it again in 2011, when the LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers won the #1 overall pick, despite having 2.8% odds. Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn
also had his suspicions of the Lottery:
"This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines
(when it comes to the NBA Lottery),” Kahn said.
Take the fourteen teams that did not make the playoffs and give each executive ONE logo engraved ping pong ball or envelope to bring to the LIVE lottery show. One by one, each person representing the franchise would put the item in the "Wheel of Fortune" like machine, so there would not be any controversy.
Allow some of those "Make-A-Wish" foundation kids to pull out the envelopes from 14 to 1, eliminating any bias, as well as helping charity at the same time! It's a win-win.
Not only would this correction make the draft order process more fair, but it would also improve the integrity and quality of NBA games during the regular season.
Teams would no longer tank to "improve their odds" in the Draft Lottery, and the last month of the regular season wouldn't be a complete joke.
Therefore the NBA would be selling a better product to fans year round, rather than hustling fans to pay high prices for shitty pro basketball from February-April, until the Playoffs start.
It's simple business that the NFL has mastered, but the NBA can't seem to grasp. But this is another day and another story, so here's what the odds for tonight are SUPPOSED to look like: