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2019 lottery karma police, part 2: Which lottery teams least deserve Zion Williamson?

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I’m just writing what we’re all fearing.

Yesterday in part one we looked at the lottery teams most worthy of landing the top pick and Zion Williamson. Today we get into the hell nahs. (Heads-up: I didn’t break down Philadelphia’s karmic debt because I don’t have it in me to imagine that hotbed of cynicism lucking into another future All-Star.)

Level 3: Nah-uh

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

No.

You do not get to stumble and bumble through life like the Wolves and be rewarded for it. That kind of corruption may be commonplace in business and politics, but I can’t abide it in the NBA, where merit is at least occasionally supposed to mean something.

Minnesota has probably alienated Karl-Anthony Towns; they alienated most of the planet maxing out Andrew Wiggins, who’s just Gerald Wilkins in a better body. They traded two young up-and-comers (Zach LaVine, now 24, and Lauri Markkanen, 21) for Jimmy Butler, who was so enamored with their program he asked out after a year, they refused, so he came back to curse out much of the organization, ultimately forcing a trade that brought back a 28-year-old and 25-year-old.

Landing Zion would be a mulligan on Wiggins the Wolves don’t deserve. Before giving Wiggins a $148M extension, owner Glen Taylor said “he wanted to look Wiggins in the eye and measure his commitment to become a better player throughout the extension’s life.” The Wolves have existed for 30 years, the last 26 under Taylor’s command. In 29 of those seasons they’ve failed to win a playoff series. Whom does Taylor look in the eye when measuring his commitment to losing basketball?

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Chris Paul has gotten a lot of flack — deserved — for being insufferable on the eyes. It’s not the ever-so-slight dip in his game that offends me rods and me cones. It’s the shameless aggression with which he tries to cheat and con and bitch his way to his wants. I’ve never seen a player with such lightning-quick reflexes when it comes to moaning or flopping or kvetching or hopping up and down like he’s Rumplefuckingstilskin.

As we often do with athletes, dickishness is excused as “competitiveness.” Paul’s chicanery is undoubtedly in part so bothersome because it hasn’t yielded results, or at least not the result — a ring — that magically turns alleged choke-artists into heroes or sexual assaulters into marketable commodities.

Which brings us to Michael Jeffrey Jordan.

If Paul were six inches taller, he’d be the same size as Jordan and probably have some rings to his name. Like Paul, Jordan is another guy who just wanted to win soooo badly he couldn’t help it, and thankfully (for him) won enough for most of us to see his sociopathic drives as not only worth it, but worth deifying. But after all the losing and boring basketball to go down under his watch in Charlotte, MJ the owner has been... well, not humbled — I don’t think you can be as successful as he’s been and actually feel humiliated or humility. He’s had to taste failure, though.

But while I get the sense Jordan still burns with the desire to win, I don’t imagine he looks inside himself when trying to identify Charlotte’s problems. He can always fire a GM, hire a new coach, or trade players, or talk about how he’s still better than they are. Maybe he is. Michael’s past grows more perfect, albeit sanitized, with every passing season. His present is the afterlife of a basketball god. His only chance at a future where he recognizes his humanity is to keep failing. The Hornets landing Zion would erase that chance for personal growth.

Or maybe I just can’t get over the ‘90s Bulls, and I’m the one who won’t grow up. Either way, just don’t let Zion end up there. That’d be like Luke Skywalker joining the Dark Side. Obi-Wan didn’t go out the way he did for that shit to happen. If he knew that was even a remote possibility, he’d have put up more of a fight.

PHOENIX SUNS

Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame are in part inspired by the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries 30 years ago. In the original comic, there is a moment where Thanos nearly loses the Gauntlet to Doctor Doom. It is a terrifying what-if. Equally terrifying: living in a universe where Suns’ owner Robert Sarver is rewarded for being Robert Sarver.

Some of y’all may be too young to know this, but the Suns were once pretty much a model franchise. From the late 1970s to mid 1980s under John MacLeod (OAKAAKUYOAK/R.I.P.) they made the playoffs eight years in a row, including two trips to the Western Conference finals. There was a brief lull in the mid-’80s, then the team ripped off 13 straight postseason appearances, including two more WCFs and an entertaining and competitive showing in the ’93 Finals.

Three years later, the Seven-Seconds-Or-Less Suns of Mike D’Antoni lost consecutive WCFs; these were the early days of Sarver’s ownership and would turn out to be the salad days. After a one-year playoff hiatus, the Suns returned to the penultimate round in 2010. And then Amar’e Stoudemire announced the Knicks were back, which meant the Suns were gone, where they’ve been nine years and running. In 11 years post-D’Antoni, the Suns have had seven head coaches! The Knicks would need to hire four different coaches the next four years to match that ignominy.

I always used to like the Suns. They wear almost the same colors as the Knicks. They’ve generally played a high-octane, fun brand of ball. Steve Nash was my favorite pre-Steph Curry non-Knick of all time. I visited Arizona when I was 11 and thought it was pretty sweet. Hell, even the word “Phoenix” has “Knicks” in it. How could one rich asshole override all that? See for yourself.

Want a clue why this man is so hated? Here’s Sarver three years ago blaming everyone born between 1980 and 1996 for why his organization sucks:

“My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason and he can’t seem to recover from it. I’m not sure if it’s the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of social media.”

Billionaires and robots are crunching the job market. The earth grows more hostile to human existence day after day. A handful of people are rich enough to fly to the moon while for many of us hospitalization means financial ruin. But the problem is Instagram?

Fuck you, Robert Sarver. May flights of Cam Reddish sing thee to thy rest.

Level 4: $#&%@!!!

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

LeBron James left the Cavs for the first time in July 2010. He was right to do so. Robber baron Dan Gilbert had surrounded LeBron with a supporting cast starring — not featuring; starring Mo Williams, Anthony Parker, Delonte West and the bloated late-stage carcasses of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison. When Cleveland lost to a Celtic team featuring four All-Stars or a Magic team with more talent and an actual head coach, the blame fell on James. Meanwhile, Gilbert paid $375M for the Cavaliers the year after James was drafted. By the time LeBron left for L.A., the franchise value was estimated at $900M.

When LeBron left in 2010, this greedy butthole had the audacity to write a letter calling James a coward. He called him a narcissist. For reasons that will forever remain unclear, Gilbert guaranteed the Cavs would win a title before LeBron did, which was not only wildly inaccurate, but which Gilbert decided to put in all-caps... and in quotes... despite the fact that the guarantee was part of the same letter Gilbert was already writing... so why was he quoting himself within his own writing? He wrote about LeBron trying to get to heaven without dying. He declared James “the exact opposite” of who people want their children to grow up being.

Over the next four years, the Cavs won the No. 1 pick three times, had seven first-round picks total, and went from 19 wins all the way to...33. They didn’t sniff .500 until James returned and led them to a championship. After he signed with the Lakers last summer, the Cavs won 19 games. Please, basketball gods: don’t start up with this nonsense again. I don’t wanna see Gilbert’s good-luck-charm entitled son’s face ever again unless he’s looking crushed after the Cavs fall a few spots.

MIAMI HEAT

The lottery is May 14th. That’s 22 years to the day from this war crime.

F@#$ the Heat. Forever. F@#$ ‘em. Salt their fields. Burn their sacred texts. Never speak their name again.

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Anyone who has suffered the company of someone of mediocre intelligence who thinks they’re a genius understands the Dallas Mavericks. They are a particularly smarmy combination of arrogance and failure.

In eight seasons since winning it all in 2011, the Mavs have not won a playoff series. The last champion to endure such a drought was Chicago between 1999 and 2006. At least the Bulls had the excuse of losing Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Dickey Simpkins and Phil Jackson all at once (just joshing — Dickey stayed on). Mark Cuban and the Mavs gave up on a championship roster and the latter half-ish of Dirk Nowitzki’s career with visions of bigger, better free agents dancing in their heads. Those dreams did not come true.

So here we are in 2019. Dallas is counting on Luka Dončić, Kristaps Porzingis and the unerring belief that they’re still the smartest guy in the room. Not this Porzingis.

This Porzingis.

Zion Williamson would allow Cuban and Co. to eternal sunshine away all the stupidity and arrogance of the past decade and greet an emphatically bright 2020s with blinders on. Plus the Knicks have a vested interest in the Mavericks stinking up the joint for five years or so.

Christ. I need a smoke.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Once upon a time, the Yankees > the Red Sox.

Once upon a time, Manchester United > Manchester City.

Once upon a time, Nazis were a German nightmare.

Things change. They can, anyway. That’s what makes injustice endurable. The promise that someday — even if it’s too far off for us to live to see it — things change.

The Lakers have been the NBA’s Lannister family forever. The Knicks are a founding NBA member and the marquee team in the biggest market in the league. And yet, compared to the Lakers, they’re infinitesimal. Like Earth versus the Sun. In the spirit of this analogy, the solar flare is Phil Jackson coming to New York to screw up.

Entering 2013-14, the Lakers, another founding NBA club, missed the playoffs five times ever. Only once had they missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons, and that was just two years. But finally — FINALLY — things appear to be changing.

They’ve missed the playoffs six years in a row. Their nine years without a title is already the third-longest drought in franchise history. Their last five coaches have been Mike Brown, Byron Scott, Luke Walton, Frank Vogel and any day now Jason Kidd. They’ve got LeBron James maxed out on the tail end of his career — that tail end is pro’ly closer to a peacock than a proboscis monkey, but still. James isn’t a free agent draw and for once, it seems, neither are the Lakers. Phil Jackson has the owner’s ear. Their front office is Rambis-infested. Maybe Knicks > Lakers is on its way to being a thing. We’ve seen how things went for the Lannisters.

Or L.A. wins the lottery. Then you know evil reigns supreme, and always shall.

CHICAGO BULLS

Okay. Deep breaths.

1989.

1991.

1992.

1993.

1994.

1995.

1996.

2001.

(I know this memory isn’t historically significant. It’s just the Knicks were still a decent team then. They started Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Larry Johnson, Mark Jackson and Kurt Thomas. Glen Rice was their sixth man. The Bulls won despite only four players reaching double figures. Two of them were Bryce Drew and Corey Benjamin.)

2005.

2016.

We’d end up crying with him.

For my entire life, the Bulls have owned the Knicks, on the floor and off. And now here we are, in 2019. And guess what? The Bulls suck.

How far have they fallen?

But they don’t just suck — they’re uptight about sucking.

And they’re not just uptight — they’re cruel. Remember their press release when they fired Tom Thibodeau? A simple “Thanks, but no thanks” would have sufficed. Instead:

“The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court...because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required...”

The Knicks cornered the market on fuckery and ineptitude for years, with nothing to show for it. Chicago’s Johnny-come-lately fuckery and ineptitude should not be rewarded with Zion Williamson.

Which lottery team would you be most bugged ending up with the top pick? Hit up the poll and elaborate in the comments below.

Poll

Who do you least wanna see win the lottery?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Philadelphia 76ers
    (50 votes)
  • 1%
    Atlanta Hawks
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Memphis Grizzlies
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Charlotte Hornets
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Washington Wizards
    (2 votes)
  • 7%
    New Orleans Pelicans
    (30 votes)
  • 0%
    Minnesota Timberwolves
    (0 votes)
  • 1%
    Phoenix Suns
    (7 votes)
  • 16%
    Cleveland Cavaliers
    (68 votes)
  • 3%
    Miami Heat
    (15 votes)
  • 17%
    Dallas Mavericks
    (69 votes)
  • 31%
    Los Angeles Lakers
    (126 votes)
  • 5%
    Chicago Bulls
    (24 votes)
402 votes total Vote Now