Hey NBA, Remove All Doubt

By Chris Johnson
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2012 NBA Draft Lottery

Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images

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The Charlotte Bobcats continued their losing ways this year on Wednesday when they missed out on the number one pick of the draft.  After sporting a 7-59 record and the worst losing percentage in league history (.106), it seemed like they were for certain headed for the number one pick of the draft.  In fact, everybody in Charlotte had pretty much banked on taking Anthony Davis at one since about mid-March.  So what exactly went wrong Wednesday night?

Unlike the NFL draft, there is no guarantee of getting the number one draft pick just because you ended up with the worst record.  In fact, with the lottery system the lowest seeded team only has a 25% chance of winning the number one pick.  With the worst record in the league the Bobcats could have gotten no higher than the fourth pick, and they obviously had the best chances of winning the top pick.  However, 25% is no guarantee – in fact, the percentages work out that the Bobcats had a 36% chance of getting the fourth pick.  In fact, since the lottery was created in 1985 only four teams that ended with the worst record have actually landed the coveted number one pick.  In the 27 years of the lottery’s existence, only four – that is a mere 14.8% of the time that the worst team has gotten the coveted spot.

So why have this lottery system if it doesn’t seem to “work,” you may ask?  Well the answer is simple: in 1984 the NBA feared teams were purposely tanking the season in hopes of getting the top prospect that year, Hakeem Olajuwon.  The NBA came up with the lottery system to counteract teams from losing their competitive edge and “will to win” in order to secure their future. Let’s be honest: it felt like the Bobcats were tanking as early as the All Star break, whether they were doing it on purpose or not.   So in the eyes of the NBA, the draft lottery has “worked” for the past twenty-seven years.  The lottery has been tweaked a few times over the years, giving the worst team a chance at the top spot, but as anyone associated with the Bobcats can tell you it is a mere chance.

Now I am not one for conspiracy theories, but it does smell rotten in Denmark.  Since its inception controversy has circled the draft lottery with people accusing David Stern of drawing a marked envelope to ensure the New York Knicks would end up with Patrick Ewing.  Others find it ironic that Cleveland gained the top draw in 2003 when home town hero Lebron James was entering the league.  The Chicago Bulls in 2008 raised eyebrows as well.  This year was no different with New Orleans being seemingly rewarded the number one pick.  In fact, the New Orleans organization from the beginning of the year has raised scrutiny with both the Chris Paul trade being blocked with the Lakers, and the fact that the NBA owns the team and are courting suitor Tom Benson.  This year’s draft has felt like a one-man draft from the get-go, and attracting a possible buyer with Anthony Davis would be plenty enticing to turn around a franchise.  While I would hate to think that NBA front offices are anything less than fair and just, there are an awful lot of coincidences that would point the other way.

With such controversy surrounding the lottery, I don’t understand one thing.  Why not show the order the teams are pulled on television instead of just announcing the teams on TV?  It makes no sense to me in this day and age with everything on television from CNN to the Real Housewives that a legitimate reason exists for the NBA to not show how they pick the order. If they can get inside the White House war room to take pictures of the President as we capture Bin Laden then somebody can get us footage of the NBA choosing the draft order.  Even if it’s just a giant bingo wheel with little balls with NBA team logos on it, or David Stern picking out folded-up pieces of a bar receipt out of a hat, or a computer spitting out the results, I want to see it.  Remove all doubt – don’t  hide in a back room with members of the media and pretend the fans are going to be all right with that.  As the commissioner of my fantasy football league, if I told the members I was going to pick behind closed doors with three guys that have no bearing or stake in the outcome of the order there would be a full on revolt.  These are people who I have known and are friends with for years, and when it comes to competition we want absolute proof that everything is fair.  I once knew a guy that was all but ostracized by a group of friends for being accused of cheating at poker.  When it comes to things of chance and sports we will not simply sit back and be trusting when told this is legit.  We need proof – we need an absolute one winner, one loser with no grey areas.  While I’m on the subject, BCS, don’t think we don’t notice the shenanigans and ballyhoo you try to pull.

When all is said and done I don’t believe that the lottery was back-handed or not legit – I just think it should be handled better.  Now let me get back to what I was doing.  “Kidd-Gilchrist or Thomas Robinson? No, not Barnes, no way Barnes, how about Beal, maybe Drummond?”


As always feel free to send me your thoughts, praise and hate mail to


Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Sports Radio 610 AM WFNZ The Fan.

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