The NBA Draft is tonight, and you know what that means -- yes, bad suits, incoherent interviews, lots of Stuart Scott, and tons of upside potential. So basically, one big engrossing train wreck.
It used to be a virtual guarantee a few years ago that every pick in the first round would be deemed a "great pick" by analysts like Hubie Brown. That was back in the TNT days, but now ESPN has the draft as its property and Jay Bilas and Jeff Van Gundy thankfully provide a dose of perspective. And criticism. It's nice.
That said, I miss the days when every pick was hailed as correct and solid because it made for awesome retroactive viewing. Nothing like seeing footage of Michael Olowakandi being hailed as a savior or a selection of Nikolas Tskitishvili garnering the applause of people who've been around the game for decades.
So as we head toward tonight, let's remind everyone of just how inexact a science this can be, and let's do it using the 2001 selection of Kwame Brown with the first overall pick.
Note that this marks the first time someone has found a use for Kwame Brown, other than accountants and lawyers who find his bank account highly useful. So props to me!
Let's go back in time to 2001. It's draft night, and the commissioner is at the podium. Let's take a look....
0:05 -- Five seconds in, we get a four way split screen of what I presume were considered the top four players in that draft class -- Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry, and Shane Battier. This snapshot unto itself should give any general manager with a top-five pick cold chills. Granted, three of them were high schoolers, and in 2012 we'd have seen them each for at least a year in college, but still. And no disrespect to Shane Battier, but after seeing now how very specialized and "role player-ish" his game is (defense, taking charges, corner three's, leadership and that's pretty much it), it's laughable to think he was considered a possibility for the first player in the draft. Seriously, how ridiculous is the scouting process sometimes?
0:48 -- Graphic shown indicating Brown is the first high schooler to be taken first overall in the draft. There would wind up being two more before the "one and done" rule was put into effect -- LeBron James in 2003 and Dwight Howard in 2004. And there's your proof that sometimes it's not just getting the first overall pick, but getting it in the right year. In retrospect, Tyson Chandler (2nd pick) and Pau Gasol (3rd) would have been better picks than Brown. Actually, a constipated hyena would have been a better pick than Kwame Brown, but the point is no one in this draft was going to be "first overall pick" worthy. Let's move on.
0:56 -- Sit down interview time, with some TNT guy in a really conservative dark suit. VERY businesslike. Who is this interviewer? He's very easy to watch and listen to. Wait....what? That's CRAIG SAGER?!? Okay, so now I need someone to find this out for me -- this video is from 2001. What year did Craig Sager come out of the suit closet and switch over to pastels and fluorescents? Help me out here.
1:37 -- Sager: "What does this decision mean to you financially?" Seriously, Sager? He's the number one pick in the fucking draft, dude. It means he's going to have a shit ton of money. What answer was Sager trying to get there? Clown question, bro. 1:59 -- Uncomfortable Sager hand-on-knee moment for Brown. Perhaps foreshadowing Pastel Craig coming out in the next few years. (Sager in the dark suit reminds me of old school WWF wrestler, the late Adrian Adonis, when he was a leatherclad biker and then one day in 1986, he showed up in the ring out of nowhere wearing pink tights, bows, and makeup applied to his face like a six-year-old that got into her mother's makeup drawer. Did Sager just show up one day in a lime green blazer with pink pants and a magenta tie a la Adonis? Again, help me out!)
2:03 -- Speaking of heel turns, Ernie Johnson in the goatee! I think this was the year he hit Hubie Brown with a chair while he was analyzing DeSagana Diop's upside.
2:06 -- Wow! It's Michael Jordan being interviewed by John Thompson after his first big personnel move, the first of so many terrible ones. Who knew back then we would be watching the seeds planted on one of the most laughable executive/personnel careers in recent history? Someday the Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries wedding video will be viewed much like this YouTube clip, as documentation of the first in a string of baffling selections (although with Kim and Kris, I'm not sure whose selection of whom was more questionable).
2:30 -- Pretty sure Michael Jordan was the only general manager in the league at that time with a huge hoop earring in his left ear. I think maybe Jordan and Carroll Dawson were the only two.
3:08 -- Jordan: "This kid is gonna fit the bill for us." I think what he meant to say is "Who's gonna foot the bill for this kid?" It's what he should have said.
3:40 -- Jordan: "I think Kwame is gonna be just fine." Well, he has made over $58 million over eleven seasons for averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds and playing in a total of 18 playoff games, so yeah...he is gonna be just fine. Jordan was right about this.
4:40 -- Jordan cracks Charles Barkley on the way out, "Stay at TNT,Charles, I think that's your best bet." Right again, Michael!
Damn, it appears the only thing Michael wasn't right about was which player to take with the first overall pick. Unfortunately, that's what he was getting paid to do. And eleven years later, here we are, with Michael Jordan sitting back near the top of the draft.
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Who will be this year's Kwame Brown?
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.