The NBA draft has been downsized, as the roster of the Charlotte Hornets attests. Only one significant Charlotte player, Tony Delk, was acquired in the draft. As a spectacle, the draft also has been downsized. New York is where the draft works best.
Moments after the final pick is made, unionized Madison Square Garden employees swarm through the building as if on a fast break. If you’re a reporter, and you need a telephone to send your story, you have to fight to keep it. You are in the paint and the telephone is a loose ball. Up there, the draft was interactive before anybody knew what the term meant.
The NBA has pried the draft from New York and moved it to such locales as Portland and Toronto. Wednesday night, the NBA will hold the draft in Charlotte. Since it appears to be one of the weakest in a decade, why should fans pay to sit inside the Charlotte Coliseum and watch?
You feel as if you knew the players before everybody else does. You see their faces and their excitement and their apprehension. They are young and about to fulfill a very old dream.
You might see Tim Duncan, the Wake Forest center who was once nice, be civil. It would be hard to hear your name called before everybody else’s, exchange kisses and hugs with loved ones, shake the hand of NBA commissioner David Stern, have a San Antonio Spurs cap placed on your head, listen to fans cheer, hear your new team talk about how wonderful you are and not be civil.
It will be a good test.
The NBA and the Hornets will make it fun for fans. There will be interactive games, none of which involve unionized Madison Square Garden telephone men, miniature golf, barrel races. Fifty tons of sand will be dumped outside the coliseum, turning the place into a beach, which means 315-pound Garth Joseph of the College of Saint Rose could wash up.
You can cheer the team with the guts to select Stanford point guard Brevin Knight, who could make the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest 5-foot-10 human being.
There is drama. Before the draft begins, the players important enough to be invited by the NBA gather in a room near the stage. One by one they leave to join their new team. Nobody wants to go last. But somebody must.
This is a long shot, but it could happen and if it does, all your friends will ask you what it was like to be there when it did.
The people who sit at the desk that bears their team’s logo are often not executives. They may be regular employees like you and me. What if they have repeatedly been passed over for promotions? What if they rarely start, even though everybody knows they should, for the company softball team?
What if all those years of mistreatment finally lead to draft night meltdown and the employee who is told to say Tim Duncan jumps up and shouts, “Garth Joseph!”