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Monday, May 2, 2016

Lottery conspiracies

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wednesday's NBA draft lottery once again provided some grade-A conspiracy theories. The NBA is known for them, in particularly the draft lottery, which comprises of ping pong balls being selected and mathematic formulas to determine what percentage of balls each team should get.

It's a bit complicated but Commissioner David Stern doesn't want teams "tanking" a season in order to get the worst record, therefore receiving the first pick, which may be the franchise player to change everything.

The most famous draft lottery fiasco was back in 1985 when the New York Knicks were the benefactors of the "frozen envelope." The Knicks, desperate for a change of fortune to once again be relevant, landed the No. 1 pick despite having the worst odds to get it. Patrick Ewing was the prize in 1985, and while he never led the Knicks to a title, the Knicks were back to being a cornerstone franchise in New York, and more importantly, the league.

This year's scenario wasn't about unlikely percentages hitting "the lottery," but clear manipulation by Stern and the league. Of course, with all conspiracy theories, there is very little hard evidence to prove such things but look at the circumstantial evidence.....

The New Orleans Hornets won the draft lottery this year. The Hornets were previously owned by the league, and Stern just recently got a buyer, Saints owner Tom Benson.

The Hornets just lost a "franchise player" in Chris Paul before this year's season. Paul was first dealt to the Lakers, but Stern nixed that trade because of his controlling stake of the league-owned franchise. Paul ended up with the Clippers and the Hornets went on to have the worst record in the Western Conference.

Now the Hornets, without a superstar and one of the worst teams in the league, is sold to Benson and a group in New Orleans just before the lottery. Hmmm.

Which brings us to the 2012 NBA draft lottery conspiracy: David Stern sweetened the sale of the Hornets franchise with the No. 1 pick. Perhaps it's silly and out of left field. Or perhaps the buyers really liked Anthony Davis of Kentucky, the projected No. 1 pick, and felt he could be a guy to help save the franchise.

Perhaps Stern was so desperate to sell the Hornets he had to take advantage of the situation. The Hornets had decent odds of getting the top pick based on a random draw, so it's not outrageous like the Knicks in 1985. Fans and theorists would have speculated no matter which team was selected so if Stern had to rig another lottery to get the Hornets out from underneath him, so be it.

I think Stern likes people thinking he controls everything in the NBA - from the draft lottery to the refs to the NBA Finals participants. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. Maybe it is all just random events taking place independently of each other.

Either way, don't expect the Hornets to be in the Finals next year, or the year after. The new Hornets ownership group will have their hands full, but at least they got the No. 1 pick out of the deal.


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Zach Jevne
Real Sports Talk
Zach joined the Daily Reporter staff as sports editor in March 2011. He is originally from Decorah, Iowa. He played baseball at University of Northern Iowa and studied multimedia journalism at Simpson College.