Friday, June 29, 2007

Official NBA Draft Entry from MSG

Welcome to the much anticipated, never duplicated "Live from the Wamu Theater" draft entry. As a newcomer to TYI, I attempted to take scrupulous notes from my 5AM wake-up call until pick number 60 but I have to admit that they got somewhat sloppy around the Alando Tucker - Bull's first 2nd round pick. Either way, I'll try to give you my impressions from NYC. It's probably going to read somewhat like a "Sports Guy" running diary, but he owes us, so fuck it.

5:38am - Showered and ready. I decided to don the "He's Back, 45" T-shirt to the morning session, leaving the HF/normal Bulls shirt combo for the night cap. Audre Lorde in hand, I begin my journey.

6:02am - As I enter the waiting area at MSG, I look to my left and see 45' Jamal Crawford and Eddy Curry smiling down at me. Thank You Isiah...I knew I had arrived.

6:06am - As I'm one of 10 people dumb enough to be waiting before 6:30, I get to talking to Chice, the young Hawks fan in front of me. Why would a Hawks fan show his or her face near the NBA Draft, you might ask? Chice grew up in Little Rock and his older brother is friends with Joe Johnson. Outside of Nolan Richardson, he had no one else to root for. Chice was hoping for an Amare trade, believing it would make them a playoff team in the East. While Amare might not be coming to the ATL, Chice will have to settle with Horford and Acie. 13 hours and 1 minute later, i saw my new friend cheering for big Al. It felt good.

9:34am - While I could probably write a whole other post about these 2 jersey-chasin' sorority girls from Gainsville sitting ahead of me, I'll leave you with this nugget. While minding my own business, reading some Audre Lorde, I overhear "Oh, Tyrus Thomas sucks. We owned him in the tournament last year!" If tickets to the Draft weren't on the line, these girls might have caught an earful. I know that Ty Ty will have my back come October anyway.

9:37am - Maybe the best part about enjoying the draft in NYC was the consistent discussion, by frustrated Knicks fans, of the 9th pick. Examples include "Man, we could get a solid scorer at 9" or "I didn't know we had a pick in the top 10! Oh, right. We don't anymore." Priceless.

I was the 12th person in line that reached about 3 city blocks by 11am. I bought three tickets, one for me and two for friends in NY, and returned home to nap. I had succeeded.


6:30ish - The theater's gates open at 6:45pm, so I jumped on the F-train at 6. The butterflies were there. My experience at the draft truly opened my eyes to the "NBA Lifestyle," and proved to me, first hand, how a 19-year old kid could get caught up in it without trying very hard. Crazy suits, people everywhere, money, sleazy agents, the draft was crazier than I could have imagined. Instead of blaming players for bankruptcy or "poor choices," it appears to me we must really look at the culture surrounding professional sports and the economics driving these cultures. That, to me, is why having Noah on the Bulls is so refreshing. More on Noah later.

7:03pm - Upon telling Nathaniel and Brian (my two comrades) of this lame kid from Sacramento and his dad who waited in line with me (he was one of the dad's that tries too hard to be the "cool dad"...we all know these guys), I realized that they were standing DIRECTLY behind me. Well played, Basden. Well played.

7:07pm - I'm in my seat. 5th from the back, dead center. Really exciting. Unfortunately, we were unable to hear any commentary/sound outside of Stern until post-Knicks draft pick when the joint cleared out.

7:20pm - First Noah sighting, bow-tie and all. Classic.

7:25pm - Jerseys around me include: Marbury, Crawford, Houston, Lee, LJ/Grandmama (which are the greatest sports commercials ever, bar none), Kidd, VC, Gasol, Yao, and Pierce. A few Jordan's around and one Hinrich representing up front.

7:30pm - The commish's introduction, claiming this upcoming season will be one of the "best seasons ever." Knicks fans boo. Obviously they don't think Jamal can lead them to the best season in franchise history.

7:35pm - The first selection is Oden. It's the first of an insane amount of moves by the Blazers, completely restructuring their roster. Brian, Nathaniel, and I salivate over a nucleus of Oden, Frye, Aldridge, and Roy. Yikes. On a side, I cannot be beat in Tecmo Basketball for Nintendo with the Blazers. Porter, Drexler, Kersey, Abdelnaby, and Duckworth. Untouchable.

7:38pm - Between Oden and Durant, the we discussed the Starter Jackets and the ubiquity of Hornets jackets back in, say, '93. Was it LJ or the Turquoise?

7:39am - The funniest addition to the draft for those sitting in Section 300, row L were the 4 children to my right. Kids straight out of the Cosby Show (think Rudy and Kenny with the fat white kid and the young Asian girl), these 4 boys should have been on TV. The best part was that they were trying, taping everything they did with a handheld camcorder, seemingly unsupervised. More about the children later.

7:42pm - Sonics go Durant. Chalk.

7:47pm - Horford to the Hawks. Chice is lovin' it, the jersey chasers are lovin' it, as well as the two pockets of folks waving Dominican flags. I think the Hawks made the correct pick here; Al runs the floor well, has great hands, rebounds, and plays pretty well facing the basket and on the block. He's one of those players that fill up the box score, night in and night out. Passing on a PG pays off with pick 11.

7:51pm - Conley to Memphis, followed by Section 300's first "Fuck the Buckeyes" chant. Unfortunately, its only a two man operation. No further comments. DWil argues Conley will play like Mighty Mouse in the NBA. Maybe, but he sure does seem to control a game better than Damon ever could.

7:57pm - It's moments like these where I was ultra-upset about the lack of sound. Jeff Green's mother, sobbing. Remember the '03 Carmelo's mom melt-down? Maybe the funniest draft moment in recent memory. Stu Scott had no idea what to do.

7:58pm - With the anticipation mounting, I can't help but wonder how it would feel to wait until pick 23 to select a big man. Ha.

8:02pm - During the commercial breaks, the jumbo trons show "Top 10" Dunks of the year. Two Thomas dunks: # 2 and # 6. The loud clapping from Section 300 has begun.

8:04pm - Milwaukee takes Yi. My Bucks friend from school wanted Brewer, as did the rest of MSG. I'm still not quite sure I understand the selection here either. They are sold on Mo Williams, so why not take a Brewer or Wright here to play the 3, along with Redd, Charlie and Bogut? Of course Torico throws it up to Fran for the analysis.

8:10pm - Wolves go for Brewer. TWO MORE PICKS. On an aside, the Gators travel well. Easily the loudest contingent outside of the New York/New Jersey crowd. Bizarre.

8:14pm - Before Bickerstaff and MJ take Brandon Wright, white Cosby kid turns to black Cosby kid, camcorder and all, and asks who the pick is going to be. Response? "I don't know, I can't read people's minds." Get these kids on TV, NOW.

8:19pm - I just can't wait any longer. We decide, amongst the three of us, that Noah is the pick. I'm happy about it. A few guys down by Bilas raise the "In Pax We Trust" sign. I'm on my feet. Spike starts talking about Bamboozled or something on TV, but I'm not listening.

8:24pm - The Bulls grab Joakim. I think TYI has done a great job analyzing both his play and his role for the club, so I'm not going to beat a dead horse. I will add that I'm also excited about his politics. Bengo mentioned his lack of interest in corporate sponsorship, but I'm glad to see another athlete speak out against the war. I saw Dave Zirin speak last Friday here in NYC and he mentioned Noah among his list of activist-athletes who continue to speak out against the war. A few quotes from Noah:

“I don’t like to compare myself to one of the greatest,’’ Noah began. “Off the court, I share [Bill Walton's] views in the way that he was against the war.’" Walton’s war was the United States in Viet Nam. Noah’s war is the United States in Iraq. “Yeah, I’m against the war,’’ Noah said. “I don’t understand it and I’m not scared to speak about how I feel about things.’’

One more Noah-related comment. After throwin' on the Bulls Cap, Nathaniel and I discuss the possibilities of a Noah/Chicago/Bozo comparison. I hope sports media never comes to this.

8:50pm - I make my first phone connection with the Thank You Isiah guys, via Big Sweet's phone. After taping the draft, Sweet can't wait any longer, yelling "fuck it, give me the picks" into my earpiece. Happiness abounds.

8:55pm - The 2nd most exciting moment of the night for me, as former classmate Julian Wright goes to the Hornets at 13. I'm glad he didn't fall out of the lottery. I'm a little nervous that he might have to be more of a scorer on the Hornets than he would have had to be on , say, the Bucks, but I think he pans out. At this point, my volume is entirely too high and I begin and HF chant. It's a 1-man operation this time.

Here is where the notes die down, so I'll leave you with a few funny moments:
9:19pm - The Nets grab Sean Williams. Bilas claims he needs to improve his "maturity," while some genius at ESPN throws up the graphic "High Risk, High Reward." I can't make this stuff up.

9:22pm - The first "foreign player out of the crowd" slection goes down, as Golden State grabs Marco Belinelli at 18.

10:40pm - After the 1st round concludes, MSG Staff immediately raises the podium a foot higher. That's something you don't get on TV. Hilarious.

As for Aaron "Paul Bunyan" Gray and JameOn Curry, I'm quite indifferent. I do know, however, that both of them played a lot better in the college ranks than a Matt Bonner or other 2nd round picks we've made in recent memory. For the first half of the season, Gray was the most dominant center in College. Let's hope that translates to the Berto Center.

That's it for now. If I remember something that needs to be said later, I'll throw it up.

To Noah


Blogger Big Sweet said...

Well done, Eddie. We'd be remiss not to mention Hawes' affinity for W if we're using ideology as a proxy for picks. Those kids sound amazing and I'm extremely jealous you got to go.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

I don't know if you could hear this at the draft, but, speaking of politics, Stu said Spencer Hawes has a "God Bless George Bush" bumper ticker on his car.

I think picking Gray was probably a good call, but I'm pretty upset about the JamesOn pick. He's an undersized two guard who never really did much at OK State, and we passed on Herbert "the next Paul Millsap" Hill to draft him.

10:12 AM  
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