At the recommendation of a client I have left the office a bit early to catch the NBA Draft live on ESPN. I am not really a fan of basketball (professional or otherwise) but I’ve never watched one of these draft events so what the hell.
From what I have witnessed so far the event works like this, draftees are seated at round tables with their families in front of a stage where draft picks are announced by the league commissioner. I have no idea how it’s decided which players make it into this draft. Maybe they checked the box at the end of their college contract which said “YES! I am interested in being drafted by the NBA, drinking Sprite, and pretending to be an inner-city thug in order to increase my commercial earning potential.”
When a teams draft choice is announced by the short middle-aged white guy a loud cheer and holler can be heard from the crowd. Parents jump up and hug their child, their new multi-millionaire child (we’re still in the first round of the draft, which I assume is known as the money round). The former college player is then interviewed by ESPN commentators who ask stupid questions that come off as a half-assed sports journalism and/or yuck-yuck jokes.
Unfortunately for the NBA rookie this is not the final step in knowing whose bench they will be warming in the next season. Once a team has secured the rights to a player they are able to horse trade them like you and I do for property in a game of Monopoly — I’ll trade you Boardwalk and Park Place for two-thounsand in cash and the Baltic Avenue block with hotels. These trades are announced in-between draft announcements and are met with mixed applause and the drinking of Sprite.
Teams are given a finite amount of time to make their draft picks. It’s like a shot clock for managers and owners (tee-hee). I have no idea what happens if they don’t make a pick before their time is up but I bet it involves drinking lots and lots of Sprite. Sometimes teams will trade their draftee for a better draft pick position in a future Draft (for instance, some team just traded some kid for their first round position in the 2008 draft).
In a nut shell the NBA Draft is a live televised human commodities market. On this evening kids are being openly purchased and then traded for other kids (like a two-fer) or for a better spot in an upcoming trade market with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.
Did I mention this crawls along? In the last thirty minutes only four player acquisitions and three trades have been announced, not exactly the pace of the very game this is all about. Still that doesn’t stop ESPN from providing constant streams of over-the-top amounts data all over the screen none of which looks very useful.
But none of this matters because the Knicks are about to announce a draft pick and Spike (Lee) is “IN-DA-HAUS!”, or so says the uptight helmet-hair white guy with a walkie-talkie mic strapped to the side of his head. Yeah.