justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft Day/Sad Day 2009

Here is the 2009 WPM NBA Draft review:

• After a ridiculously long middle-of-the-night commute, I arrived at the Garden just before 6 a.m. I was unsure how early I should arrive before the tickets went on sale at 11 a.m., so I figured showing up a good five hours early would be playing it safe. I had been looking forward to attending the draft ever since I thought about moving to NYC, so I was set on doing whatever it took to attend the draft.

• There were already a good 40 people in front of me, including one kid rocking an authentic DKV Joventut Ricky jersey.

• I have never once had a nightmare where I walked naked into a public setting, but showing up to the NBA draft without a jersey was like living that nightmare for five hours. I have never felt so naked and I will never forgive myself for not bringing my D. Miles Cleveland Jersey to NYC. It would have killed.

• It was rather serene to be on the streets at such an early hour. Except there was a homeless guy 10 feet away from the line who was either rehearsing his soliloquy of Billy Madison speaking gibberish or he was just stung the fuck out. He went on for a good 30 minutes incoherently yelling at a light pole. I respected his dedication to his craft.

• There was a white guy rocking an Iguodala Sixers jersey backwards, which I believe means he's a Sixers fan in distress. Where as if you are a black guy wearing a jersey backwards it means you are Nelly in the "Tip Drill" video.

• Other dope jerseys I saw in the line: A Warriors Spree jersey, An NYC Spree jersey (I can't tell you how much I hate Gallinari fake Spree jerseys), a NYC Jamal Crawford jersey, about 500 Patrick Ewing jerseys, a dirty Bobcats warm-up jersey, and a dirtier Spanish national team Ricky jersey.

• There is a banner that hangs inside the Garden's entrance that commemorate The Liberty's (NYC's WNBA team) first home game, in which they defeated the Mercury (Phoenix's WNBA team). That one still hurts.

• I still don't understand what color the Mercury wore in their inaugural season.

• The five-hour wait was saved by a nice camping chair, a good book and a bag of pretzels. I was also entertained by the kids in front of me who spent two hours passing a notepad back and forth writing their own mock draft. It was pretty solid as every pick ended with the phrase "via trade."

• I was also allowed ample time to contemplate the absurdity of the situation. Fans will pay thousands of dollars to watch a guy throw a ball into a metal rim, hit a ball with stick of wood or any other sport you want to break down to the simplest level. But I am calling in sick to work and waiting in line for over five hours to watch kids the age of my younger brother walk across a stage and shake an old Jewish dude's hand.

• Guys from the Knicks PR street team began passing out Knicks towels and postcards encouraging fans to buy season tickets. Since there currently is no real face of the Knicks, the card had a picture from inside the Garden of the Knicks playing the Nets with the scoreboard showing the Knicks down 65-52.

• Eventually after more than five hours of waiting, which involved a fair amount of anxiety that I would not even be able to buy tickets, I got the golden ticket (15 bucks and in 6 rows deep in he highest section of the theater) and I went home to take a victory nap.

• I was awoken once from my slumber by a call from work, which I promptly ignored. Ten minutes later work called again. This time I picked up thinking they would have some trivial question to ask me. I was wrong. They called to tell me I was fired. After ending the call I began to lose my mind quite a bit. How could they do this to me on my special day and less importantly how could they do this to me on Brandon Jennings' special day.

Actually Brandon Jennings was completely removed from my mind as I began pacing back and forth in the hallway trying to calm myself down and not dwell on the shittiness of unemployment of the past and present.

Granted it was a lame office job that I hated and the pay was comically low, but it was still an income none the less. And it was a blatant attempt to try to destroy a day I had been looking forward to for years.

• I carried on with my day and returned to the Garden an hour before the draft. I sold my extra ticket for $30, which paid for my ticket and netted me an extra 15 bones, almost making up for the lost job. I tried to get a lot more for the ticket, but the market just was not there and another scalper eloquently put it, "This draft is dead, n***** don't wanna see this shit."

• Then my friend told me Michael Jackson died. More sadness.

• Finally I got in the WaMu Theater and 30 minutes later Mr. Stern took the mic and the draft began.

• 1 - The only thing worth noting from the No. 1 pick was that I did not know Tricky Ricky was on the Clippers. The same Ricky Davis who once tried to cheat his way to a triple double.

• 2 - There was a guy wearing a black Griz Darko jersey which was trill enough as it is. But he went the extra mile and safety-pinned a paper reading "Thabeet" on the back over Milicic.

• 3 - I'm actually a big James Harden fan even though I refuse to accept the Thunder (who get nastier by the minute) as a real team. His was also killing it with his suit.

• 4 - I'd guess that we are only 30 days away from learning that Tyreke never even took his SATs to get into Memphis.

• 5 - The Wolves had no choice but to pick Rubio here, even if he refuses to play for Minny.

• 6 - I was really hoping the Wolves would pick Brandon just so they could have the two in same backcourt, but they did something just as silly and picked Jonny Flynn.

• 7- When the Warriors stole Stephen Curry off the board I would describe the atmosphere inside the theater as somewhere between 9/11 and Michael Jackson's death. Word to Ochocinco.

• 8 - I think Stern just finished enunciating the J in Jordan Hill's name when Knicks fans began to boo. I booed with them because why the fuck not? When asked what I thought about Hill by a Knicks fan, I told him that Hill was a dumber A'm'ar'e Stoudemire, if that is possible. Side note: I sat in the Suns war room for the 2006 NBA Draft. I still have the official media guide which lists the top 300 players eligible for the 2006 Draft. That media guide does not include Renaldo Balkman, who the Knicks chose with their 20th pick in the '06 Draft. Few can fuck up drafts like the Knicks.

• 9 - Including Demar Derozan, I have seen 6 of the first 13 picks play in person, in case you were curious.

• 10 - Brandon Jennings. Finally the moment I have been waiting my entire life for. And he is not in the fucking building. Can this day get any fucking worse. I waited five hours in line just to say I was there when Brandon was drafted and see some ridiculous Italian suit and the motherfucker does not even show up. I am seriously depressed at this point.

• 11 through 13 - Don't matter. I sit alone in the Theater and want to cry. I plan on waiting for the Suns to fuck up the 14th pick and then bounce.

• 14 - "With the 14th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft the Phoenix Suns select Earl Clark from the University of Louisville, Clark is not in attendance tonight. (Pause) But... The Milwaukee Bucks' pick Brandon Jennings is now here," Stern declares. And like a little kid on Christmas my eyes light up and a big smile returns to my face. Brandon awkwardly comes out from behind the stage and blows kisses to the crowd and then gives a belated handshake to the Commish.

• Then the No. 13 pick Tyler Hansbrough exits through aisle next to the lunatic fans I am sitting with. Most other players receive warm cheers and high fives as they exit, but not Hansbrough. Everyone boos Psycho T as he walks by. The kid next to me, who was no bigger than me (5'9," 145) gets within 8 inches of Hansbrough's face and screams "Faggot!" at Hansbrough (6'9," 250). Many others join in and begin to loudly question his sexuality. Then one kid, appropriately enough wearing a Knicks Starbury jersey, knocks Hansbrough's draft cap off his head. He is quickly apprehended by security and escorted out of the building to chants of "MVP!" and we all offer him high fives in support of his bold act of bravery.

Brandon Jennings quickly follows and I give him a high five. Sure I don't have a job, paying rent is going to be a struggle soon and Brandon Jennings, 3 years my younger, just secured himself a contract for a couple more million on top of the $2 million he earned in Italy; but for that second all seemed right in the world.

• For the record I don't know shit about Earl Clark and I don't really care. Also when Hansbrough was drafted one fan behind me began chanting "Austin Croshere!" unfortunately nobody picked up on it.

• I was excited for the Suns to bomb the upcoming season with hopes of getting John Wall next year... Until Gould reminded me that the Suns gave away their 2010 first-round unprotected pick along with Kurt Thomas for a conditional second round pick. Enjoy that top five pick next year OKC.

• I later bumped into Bruce Pascoe, gotta respect your local Tucson beat writers.

• I bounced around the theater some more and ran into the Jennings clan. I saw a skinny kid in a nice suit with the Bucks draft cap. I yelled Brandon at him twice until I realized it was a his little brother Terrence, who if you don't know is the coolest kid in the universe and you would expect far too cool to remember meeting me multiple times before.

• A group of fans waved an Israeli flag and celebrated when Israel-born Omri Casspi was selected. Later I saw a guy wearing a shirt reading "Palestine Spyders," I would have like to see his reaction to Casspi's selection.

• The remaining fans began chanting "Jeff Van Gundy" until the former Knicks coach and current ESPN announcer acknowledged them, to which they responded with cheers. They repeated the process with Mark Jackson. And they began chanting "Bilas sucks!" God bless draft fans.

• I finally saw one of my journalism heroes Lang Whitaker in the flesh. I shouted "Hey Lang!" at him and he turned around from the media section. I told him I was a long-time Linkstigator and he gave me solid finger point of respect. If you guys understood how long and how much I have read of Lang's work you would understand how amazing that is.

• I was really, really upset that I did not run into the Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen. That guy is one of my personal heroes, but on a lesser scale than Lang Whitaker.

• I stayed for the first few picks of the second round just to see the NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, who was greeted to chants of "We want Russ," in reference to Russ Granik, the former Deputy Commissioner, who announced the second round until 2006. I hope you all can appreciate how insanely hardcore these fans were.

• I left the draft in a decent mood, still a little messed up over losing my job. But if I learned anything on the day, it's that going to the draft is not about having a good time. For New Yorkers its about having your GM pick a brain-dead, raw power-forward in hopes that he will compliment a superstar you probably won't be able to sign in 2010; and leaving the theater furious as a result. And for the rest of us, it's seeing one young kid after another make more money in a night than most of us will ever see in a lifetime.

• Here are some pics I took on the day:

Young Money now a Buck.

Hansbrough before he was de-capped.

This lady was quite bizarre.