The NBA Draft is in a week; I'm an unfortunate sucker for all matters draft to the point of rewatching the draft packages that air on the NBA Network each year in the days leading up to the new draft.
And then I talk about them with you.
-A recap of the rookie stars of '81 has still photographs of each of the ballplayers, the types of action photographs you'd expect - except they have what looks like a senior picture for Buck Williams. He's in a red sweater; his chin is in his hands; he's about to head to 3rd period English to read The Canterbury Tales.
-I miss the gruffness of Larry O'Brien, treating the fans in the Felt Forum like a middle school Principal, "if you don't quiet down we cannot get started with our assembly this afternoon. The Akron Fire Department rock and roll band is here to perform for you. Please be quiet."
-Jerry Buss is here; James Worthy is not. Fast forward 27 years and Buss can't be bothered to show up for the trophy ceremony for the Lakers title win. LA is the most jaded one time in a row winner ever; the Buss family sends a 19 year old to pick up the trophy; Coach Phil is just going to work home games; Kobe's going to pass twice per quarter; Adam Morrison's going to turn the channel in the middles of the third quarter.
-Terry Cummings is in jeans and a polo shirt looking like he just got off his shift at Baskin Robbins.
-Eddie Doucette, in the kiss and cry area, just told Bill Garnett that he didn't have a good jumper.
You didn't see that by 2009:
Stu Scott (interviewing DeMar DeRozan): You were sort of a bust at USC, DeMar. And you have too many D's in your name given how you don't play any.
BEST THINGS LOUIE CARNESECCA SAID: "There are gonna be some surprises and there are gonna be some that's not so surprising." "Gimme that potato - I'll take it!"
GUY WHO MAY BE DEAD: Keith Edmondson
Here came the weird academic portion of the draft - Edmondson said he couldn't attend the pre-draft camp in Hawaii because he didn't want his grades to slip. Sleepy Floyd said he had to take the LSAT because he wanted to go to law school. Paul Pressey cut off questions by asking Al Albert his views of the Malthusian catastrophe dilemma.
Stu Scott (to Brandon Jennings) What will you be doing to get ready for the leap to the NBA?
Jennings: Most importantly will be studying for the quantitative analysis section of the LSAT. I want to emulate Justice Floyd.
Doucett also went to his ironic nickname commentary bag selectively.
To Fat Lever: there's nothing Fat about you!
To Sleepy Floyd: there's nothing Sleepy about you!
To Lester the Molester Connor: best name in the draft! So weirdly appropriate!
Then Quentin Dailey beat Connor down for stealing what should have rightfully been his nickname.
Too bad we missed the '81 draft.
Doucette: Buck Williams! There's nothing Buck about you! Sharp sweater! When's your lunch period?
Sometimes, as I watch the old drafts, I take naps. Sure, a greater commitment to my craft would require that I rewatch the material that I slept through. But you will not see that here. When I fall asleep after Lancaster Gordon got picked, that's the end of my thoughts on the '84 draft. No, I didn't sleep through 1983, they haven't aired it. I mean the draft. I was 12 in 1983 and slept through a healthy portion of that year. I has Mrs. Gimbut for 7th grade English and that was a bad scene. I got fined for the condition of my textbook when I returned it at year's end; it had obscenities in it; the truth is it was that way at the beginning of the year and I spent months worrying about what would happen when I turned it in. They were particularly vulgar as well, scatological, the types of things that even at 12, I thought were a little beneath me. I think I was less bothered that Mrs. Gimbut thought I was the kind of kid who wrote dirty words in his grammar book than that those would be the particular words which I thought amusing. Like I was 1983 version of Beavis and/or Butthead.
-Moustache David Stern looks like he's just come back from a key party. Five will get you ten the phrase dirty sanchez has come out of that mouth.
-A good subtheme for the mid 80s drafts was the preponderance of draftees wearing tuxedos. Sort of like the Pete Rose/Kane run at Wrestlemania - out of nowhere, 3 straight years in this stretch - TUXEDO!! --
It was Olajuwon in '84.
-I liked Barkley in the maroon jacket; his mixture of weirdly naked honesty and total bullshit was evident in the kiss and cry interview, he says he has an "inability to play defense" which is three hundred steps further than any modern draft pick will go in knocking his own ball - and then immediately came back by saying "I feel I could learn a lot from Mark Iavaroni." If I ever meet Chuck, that's the question I'm gonna ask him "tell me about the life lessons you received from Mark Iavaroni."
-Jack Ramsey, almost 30 years after picking Sam Bowie over Jordan still draws paychecks for his basketball expertise, which is astounding. Sort of like Bill Buckner having a defensive drills video or Dick Cheney talking about foreign policy. At some point, you have to turn in your keys.
-Carnesecca, in his last draft, props up the Bowie over Jordan choice by saying it will allow the Blazers to move Mychal Thompson to his more natural power forward position. Way to look three moves ahead, Deep Blue. Thomspon was the top pick in '78, the year where the Celtics got Bird at #6 and sat on him for a year when he went back to school. GSW had #5 and took Purvis Short. That is my very, very, very first Warriors memory. And yet I remain a fan. This tells you a lot about me.
-Lancaster Gordon gets picked; Lancaster is a funny name - I had a student once named Lukie Pusey, he was related (brothers, I think) to the football player formerly named Luscious Pusey. They are large black men. Do with that what you will.
-Otis Thorpe responded to being picked by saying "The Day Has Arisen!" - which is one of the great, totally overlooked "Hello, World" sports quotations of all time.
-I always rooted for Patrick Ewing and those early 80s Georgetown teams. This wasn't acceptable in the early 80s; the Georgetown teams were clearly framed by the embryonic Sports Industrial Complex as the heels; John Thompson was big, black, angry guy and he had black angry players, and they wore grey and played in DC. I've written about this before, although maybe not in this space - trying to dig in the dirt to find the formation of my personality, which seems to be that of estranged outsider, viewing myself oppositionally - "I'm not you people." Politically and culturally I was as different from my surroundings as a teenager as was possible - and as an adult, the choices I've made have continued to place me as an outlier; if you see me in a meeting at work I'm sitting as alone and uncomfortable as if you saw me in the cafeteria in 8th grade. I don't know the chicken/egg on this, but sports certainly fed the machine - and when I'm 12 years old living in rural Ohio chanting "Let's Go Hoy-as!" it felt similar to talking about gay rights or the need for tax increases, both of which I also did at the time. This might just be lifelong social anxiety disorder; I'm thinking if that A&E show Obsessed did an hour on me at any point in my life I could pretty easily fit into that frame.
-Aw, man Wayman Tisdale caught me a little bit. He's got the "it's all in front of me" hitch in his stride, 24 years later it would all be behind him. There's never been a single day in my life I didn't at least consider my own death. It fills me with abject terror. I completely get the afterlife/reincarnation myths; I want a way out too. There just isn't one.
-Benoit Benjamin apparently averaged 4.6 blocks a game at Creighton, I assume that's senior year and not career, but I'm not looking it up. Which seems crazy until you watch this clip - and he's blocking a bald dude's shot - not a shaved head dude - but a guy with a receeding hairline/male pattern combo that absolutely means he's 43 years old.