An Interlude

So as I compose my thoughts on Game 1 (I know, I know…it happened a long time ago and I should’ve sorted things out right now), I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on the other NBA event going on–that’s right, the Draft Lottery.

Tonight, the NBA will announce the winner of the John Wall sweepstakes.  In many ways, this is more fun than any actual NBA games because it’s just nice to know that there’s no way the NBA can rig the lottery.  I mean, there are no referees to make blatantly incorrect calls or to take Grant Hill out of the game with those same blatantly incorrect calls and the entire process is totally transparent and is certainly on the level.

Or not.  Let’s face it…the NBA does whatever it wants.  I mean, let’s take a look at the first ever lottery (which was, not coincidentally, the first rigged draft lottery–the rigging starting at the 4:40 mark if you don’t want to watch the whole thing [and I'm sure you don't; it's pretty boring]):

In case you missed it, here’s how it was rigged.  The guy who was putting the envelope drops them all into the tumbler with the exception of one…which he *slams* into the side of the thing.  When Stern goes over to start pulling them out, he looks around for the one with the bent corner and pulls it out first.  Seems pretty obvious to me (and in case you’re unfamiliar, the reason the draft was rigged was that Patrick Ewing was coming out of Georgetown and the Knicks needed a franchise player).  But as Ben says, “Papa knows most people won’t admit to themselves that they wasted time caring about a rigged sport and that gives him freedom.”  Ben’s right.  The constant refrain from conspiracy theory haters is basically, “Of course the league isn’t fixed.”  There’s no reason there; no logic.  Every time the Lakers lose a game, Lakers fans insist that this clearly shows the league isn’t under Papa Stern’s total control.  Stern is no idiot; he knows that he needs to spread things around, occasionally let the underdog win, and let the games actually be decided on the court every now and again.  But when it comes down to it, when the league needs a particular result, that result miraculously comes to pass.  Weird, that.

Anyway, now that we know that the league is rigged, let’s talk about how tonight’s rigging will go.  Here are the odds for the lottery:

So who’s it gonna be?  Well, here’s what Ben suggested this morning: “After dumping Artest, Tinsley, & Cap’n Jack, plus not tanking, I predict the Pacers get ‘lucky’ and move up tonight.”  I think that’s a pretty solid theory, and I would add to the reasons “added a bunch of white players.”

My thought is that even though they have the best odds, there’s no way New Jersey gets the top pick.  Why?  Because the top pick means John Wall, and John Wall is a LeBron enticement.  I don’t think there’s any way that Stern lets the Nets get that piece that might help them get LBJ, especially when there is actually an outside chance that his Knicks could get him.  Ben thinks that Stern might give it to the Nets as a “We’d like to welcome you and all your rubles to the club” present, but I don’t think he’d stick it to his team like that.  Of course, I’ll hedge that bet with an acknowledgement that Papa knows that money flowing through one team like that is good for the league overall, so maybe he’ll set aside his personal preference for the Knicks doing well in exchange for his personal preference for money.

Ben also suggests that ownership turnover may be a factor in giving Golden State a helping hand saying he “wouldn’t be shocked if GState gets it with announcement that bidding starts in days.  Big coincidence.”  One thing you learn, as an NBA conspiracy theorist, is that there are no coincidences.  Everything happens for a reason.

So who’s it gonna be?  Well, I think Papa’s most likely teams who “deserve” it would be GSW (for cleaning house and to recharge a good fanbase), SAC (they need a new arena and attendance has waned), NJ (new ownership and new money), WAS (seem to be motivated to “clean up their act”), and IND (reasons detailed above).  Those are my top five, in no particular order.  What do you think?

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