NBA Draft Lottery Conspiracy Lives

By Dennis Berry

If you believe in conspiracies then Wednesday night gave you even more ammo.

That is because the New Orleans Hornets won the NBA Draft Lottery. They will more than likely pick Kentucky’s Anthony Davis with the number one pick. He will be headed back to the city where he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 Final Four after helping Kentucky win the national championship.

It also means that a team that the NBA will have to deal with the "conspiracy".

The first draft lottery that took place in 1985 was pretty simple. Commissioner David Stern pulled envelopes from a pile to determine the order. Since then the conspiracy has been alive and well.

That year the New York Knicks won the draft lottery. That meant they could pick Georgetown center Patrick Ewing with the first overall pick.

The Knicks were coming off a 24-58 season, third worst record in the league. The franchise needed something to build around. The league needed a star in New York.

Ewing was considered the top prospect that year. He had led Georgetown to a 35-3 record and the Hoyas were runner-ups in the NCAA Tournament to Villanova. The year before the Hoyas won the NCAA Title and Ewing was the M.O.P.

There are many jokes as to how the league fixed it. Some think that the envelope that contained the Knicks was bent. Others say the envelope was chilled so Stern knew not to pick it.

All history knows that the Knicks won the lottery, drafted Ewing, and built the franchise around him.

Since then the NBA has changed the way the lottery works. Instead of determining the whole order, now it just determines the top three. They added a weighted odd system to give the worst teams a better shot in 1990. They increased the odds for teams with the worse records in 1994.

Through it all, the conspiracy lives.

In 1992 the Orlando Magic were coming off a 21 win season. They had not come close to even having a .500 record in three years of existence. Meanwhile their expansion counter parts in Miami had just made the playoffs for the first time in 1992.

Orlando needed a boost.

They would win the 1992 NBA Draft lottery and pick LSU's Shaquille O'Neal. That's not all.

In 1993, the Magic once again got the number one pick and selected Michigan's Chris Weber. They eventual traded him to Golden State for Anfernee Hardway.

Two years later the Magic are in the NBA Finals.

Then there is the 2003 NBA Draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers finish tied for the worst record in the NBA with Denver. The Cavaliers had been terrible for years and needed something to build the franchise around.

It just so happened that there was a high school kid from Akron, Ohio who was seen as the best high school prospect ever. His name was LeBron James.

The Cavaliers would win the lottery and select James with the number one pick. Four years later the Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals.

In 2008 the Chicago Bulls finished 33-49. They finished with the ninth worst record in the league. The truth is the Bulls had not been relevant since Michael Jordan retired for a second time in 1998.

The Bulls would win the draft lottery and select Memphis' Derrick Rose. He was coming off a NCAA Runner-up season with the Tigers. He also grew up in Chicago.

Three years later the Bulls have the best record in the league and Rose is the MVP.

NBA Draft Lottery Conspiracy Lives
April 15, 2012; Auburn Hills, MI, USA: Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (1) drives to the basket against the Detroit Pistons during the second quarter at The Palace. Photo Courtesy By: Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE.

In 2010 the Wizards were coming off a 26-56 season, the fourth worse record in the league. They were also in dealing with the fallout of Gilbert Arenas being suspended after bringing guns to the Wizards locker room. Added to the fact that long time owner Abe Pollin passed away in November of that season.

The franchise was a mess and needed a makeover.

With Pollin's widow representing the team at the Draft Lottery, the Wizards would win the lottery. They would select Kentucky point guard John Wall with the first pick.

In 2011 the Cavaliers were a mess after LeBron James left as a free agent. They went 19-63 that year, including a 26 game losing streak. Fans were still bitter with the way James left.

The Cavaliers needed a makeover. They would win the draft lottery and select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving. While they only won 21 games during the lockout shortened season, there is a new sense of hope for the franchise.

Now in 2012, the New Orleans Hornets benefitted when they needed it most. The Hornets had been under control of the NBA since late 2010. Before the start of this season, the league traded star point guard Chris Paul to the LA Clippers.

While the league has agreed to sell the Hornets to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, it was a team with no real star. It was a place that no free agents would consider going.

The Hornets needed a star.

Enter Kentucky center Anthony Davis, the top prospect in this year's Draft. Davis did it all in his only year at Kentucky. He was the SEC Freshman, Defensive, and Player of the Year. He was chosen by many outlets as the National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

New Orleans finished with the third worst record in the league. Now they have the chance to draft a franchise changing player. Davis will make an immediate impact for New Orleans. He will be a defensive presence and will add an offensive threat from the post.

He will help sell tickets and give the fans in New Orleans a reason to pay attention to the franchise. It is just what the Hornets and the NBA needed.

And so the conspiracy lives on.

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