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NBA Draft Lottery Conspiracies?

Updated on May 30, 2012

First let me say that I don’t think the NBA Draft Lottery is completely rigged; but here is a list of examples that I thought were interesting and may make you go hmmm…

1 – 1985: The team in the biggest market, the New York Knicks – wins the lottery in its first year and selects Patrick Ewing, one of the most dominant players in college basketball history.

2 – 1993: A year after drawing the first pick and taking Shaquille O’Neal, the team again receives the number one pick with the worst odds in the lottery’s history. Pairing Shaq with another star to rival Michael Jordan and the powerful Chicago Bulls could have been the plan.

3 – 1995: Golden State Warriors win and select Joe Smith; earlier in the season traded Chris Webber.

4 – 1999: The Chicago Bulls get “lucky” in shortened season after labor dispute which ended Jordan Era and dynasty.

5 – 2000: Rod Thorn, the NBA's Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations who is hired by the New Jersey Nets before the draft chooses Kenyon Martin first overall. I’m sure he gave his letter of resignation and “two weeks’ notice” before the lottery drawing.

6 – 2001: Michael Jordan, who made the NBA what it is today, is hired to be the Washington Wizards' president of basketball operations and minority owner in 2000. The team wins the first pick the following year.

7 – 2003: High School phenom, LeBron James who was born and raised in Akron, Ohio declares for the NBA draft and is chosen number one by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

8 – 2004: The Orlando Magic is rewarded the top selection and Dwight Howard is the prize. Shaquille O’Neal left the team as a free agent with nothing in return in 1996, so this may be the league's way of apologizing and replacing him with another Superman. Interestingly, Howard wants to leave now too.

9 - 2006: The Toronto Raptors trade a disgruntled Vince Carter and the only team in Canada – without a superstar; win the lottery the following year and pick Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani, a European player in a heavily populated European country, has skills resembling another European player, Dirk Nowitzki.

10 - 2008: Derrick Rose, an extraordinary talent from Chicago which is one of the largest markets, is taken as the number one pick by the Chicago Bulls.

11 – 2010: Another talented player, John Wall goes to the Washington Wizards. Earlier that year, Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were suspended for pulling guns on each other in the locker room.

12 – 2011: The Cleveland Cavaliers win the lottery a year after LeBron James leaves the team empty-handed via free agency.

Other notes: Teams with the worst record won the lottery four times. In each of those four years, the first pick was a potential superstar and widely considered the best player in the draft.

1988: LA Clippers – Danny Manning

1990: NJ Nets – Derrick Coleman

2003: CLE Cavaliers – LeBron James

2004: ORL Magic – Dwight Howard

The Los Angeles Clippers, from the second largest market - won the lottery 5 times.

There are quite a few people eager to see what happens this year in the NBA Draft Lottery. Can the Cavaliers find a quality big man to play with Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving? Will the Wizards find a running mate for John Wall? Can the Charlotte Bobcats, with Michael Jordan overseeing perhaps one of the worse teams in NBA history, finally make a wise basketball decision? Will the Portland Trailblazers, who have had a string of bad luck with a career ending injury to Brandon Roy and possibly to Greg Oden – be more fortunate in this year’s drawing? The Sacramento Kings could use some rejuvenation after being turned down by the city to build a new stadium. After the Chris Paul trade, the New Orleans Hornets could also use some rejuvenation and get that city excited again. But to me, the most interesting subplot comes from the Brooklyn Nets, formerly the New Jersey Nets. The team is moving into its new billionaire arena with their Russian principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and will be Brooklyn’s first major sports team since 1957. The Nets can only land a top three pick - the team traded with Portland for Gerald Wallace in exchange for their first which is protected one through three. There’s speculation that even if the Nets were to win the number one pick, they would trade the pick to Orlando for Dwight Howard.

Things can get really interesting and fuel more conspiracy theories, hmmm…


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