The Los Angeles Clippers won the most favored martyr award last night in the NBA Draft Lottery and, with it, the top pick in the 2009 NBA Draft next month (likely to be Blake Griffin). The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder now follow, leaving the Grizzlies to pretend Mike Conley, Jr. is the answer to anything but “Name one theoretically famous Junior” and draft Hasheem Thabeet.
Oklahoma City, your Ricky Rubio awaits. (Ricky will love the fried bologna sammich at Toby Keith’s I Love This Restaurant a block away from the arena.) A staff containing Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, Rubio, and your dear departed grandmother should be capable of 50 wins in two years. If you find it less ghoulish, we’ll refer to your passed loved one as Nenad Krstic. Same mobility, anyway.
(By the way, please send your love to Sacramento tonight as they had the league’s worst record and washed out with the fourth pick. And you thought living in Sacramento was punishment enough.)
Your intrepid correspondent pulled into a local sports bar in the Phoenix area just thirty minutes before the NBA Draft Lottery truly started (which was, of course, thirty minutes after it officially kicked off). That will be the best way to take the pulse of the community regarding the first lottery draft pick for the Phoenix Suns likely to play for the team since Amare Stoudemire, your correspondent said to himself rather self-consciously.
It can be officially reported that the patient is dead; there was no pulse in the greater Phoenix community regarding the draft lottery. The normally-popular bar was half-empty and the televisions kept being turned from the NBA lottery to practically any other sport. In fact, the only person to keep half an eye on the proceedings was Dan Majerle’s brother.
Surely, much of the passivity came from having such a slim chance at a top-three pick, but the collected crowd seemed much more interested in the Western Conference Finals for the NBA and NHL. They chose wisely as the Denver Nuggets couldn’t hold their late lead against the Los Angeles Lakers and therefore provided another thrilling finish, a 105-103 Lakers victory to kick off the NBA edition of the Western Conference Finals.
Also, game 2 of the NHL edition ended in the first overtime with a 3-2 Detroit Red Wings victory over the Chicago Blackhawks to extend the series lead to 2-0. The ‘Hawks could not stop giving up the puck in the most exposed fashion possible, leading to two breakaway goals, including the three-on-one clincher. You’d think a battle between a dinosaur and a human would turn out differently.
(The bar didn’t care for that result; Arizonans are either transplanted Colorado residents or former Illinoisans. No love lost for Detroit from either quarter.)
On the other hand, the true locals were left to stew yesterday over news that a federal bankruptcy judge couldn’t bring the NHL or the former and future owners of the Phoenix Coyotes together on a deal regarding the sale of the team and a possible move back to Canada. Instead, he sent both sides into mediation and told them to hash it out themselves.
Of course, the NHL couldn’t resist putting gun to skate during yesterday’s proceedings. For starters, the lawyer for the city of Glendale, AZ, had to admit that he’s never been to a Coyotes game. Then the judge said late in the day, “The NHL is like a dog chasing a car. The question is, ‘What do you do if you catch it?’” Bury it in Arizona, perhaps?
The relocation hearing in late June won’t answer the question, either; multiple rounds of appeals will surely follow if all sides can’t talk it out. It all adds up to at least a month of indecision, misdirection, and public proclamations. It’s not unlike the buildup to the NBA Draft, really.
When Arizonans aren’t paying attention to hockey mirages or 14th picks or UFOs in 2009, they might be taking in this hail of bullet points:
- Your Dancing with the Stars winner is Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Shawn Johnson, who will celebrate with her favorite taco popper.
- Congratulations to John Smoltz on his recent marriage! Hopefully, he had a favorable justice of the peace that let him have all the outside calls on sickness versus health and the like.
- Also, congratulations to USC on its men’s tennis title. Your Yahoo! Sports investigation is in the mail.
- What’s more disappointing: Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin’s secondary violation for mentioning a high schooler’s name in his Twitter account or the school’s admission that Kiffin didn’t make the error because one of Kiffin’s personal assistants wrote the entry, meaning that it’s not really his Twitter account at all?
- If you’re a gay man in Turkey, you can pretty much give up on your dreams of a military career and of ever becoming a soccer referee.
- The new emissions standards/fuel efficiency law announced yesterday may not have ever happened if it wasn’t for a back stall in a Nationals Park washroom.
- College athletics are tax-exempt (even basketball and football) and the NCAA may have muddled the waters enough to make it incredibly difficult to change that.
- Seriously, Lane Kiffin has multiple personal assistants and we can’t find a way to tax that program?
- Todd Helton has his 2,000th hit. No, really… this time, we mean it.
- It’s also been over 2,000 days since Michigan beat Ohio State. Guess who rented a billboard in Ann Arbor to remind Michigan students of that fact?