Last night the Knicks had their highest draft pick since 1985. But the draft has experienced cancerous growth since those simpler times. The selection of players is almost secondary to the hype and hoopla, the drama, the fashion, the punditry, and a growing unease with the industry buying out young men’s career agency because “that’s what we’ve always done and they can love it or leave it.” Who can forget Zach LaVine’s “Fuck me” after being chosen by Minnesota?
Consider this collection of thoughts one little malignant cell rooted in the spectacle. Let’s diary!
- Adam Silver has just given his annual “Things Couldn’t Be Better” draft night speech. Silver grosses me out in a completely different manner than David Stern did. Stern’s grossness was similar to that of Alex Rodriguez: unmistakable, mushrooming in darkness and fundamental to his being. Silver is gross the way Derek Jeter is gross: there’s veneer there. Pretense. Jeter could be Patrick Bateman and he’d never get caught. Silver, too.
- ESPN gives us NASCAR reporter Marty Smith assuming Jimmy Hart’s role as The Mouth of the South and assuming Zion Williamson is tuning in to his spiel instead of, you know, living his life. In front of a crowd of screaming humanoids, Smith looks into the camera and tells Zion “If you love us, we will love you.” It’s a bit menacing and more than a little disgusting, given that these are the same folks who’ll burn Zion in effigy when he actually has some control over his career and wants a trade in 2023. Smith caps the grotesquerie by leaping into the not-at-all artificial cheering muchedumbre behind him and crowd-surfing. Hope the paycheck’s worth it, bub.
- Rece Davis announces Zion is the 10th straight freshman to be selected No. 1. Can you guess who the last non-frosh was? No peeking!
- Chauncey Billups is going on and on about how Zion is “such a good teammate. So humble...raised right. Two parents in his home.” Zion does seem like a good dude. And it was refreshing to spend a night watching hours of American television and seeing positive presentations of African-American families, and fathers in particular. But like the Smith nonsense a few minutes earlier, I wish these pundits would stop trying to shape a narrative and let it grow naturally. Remember when Dwight Howard entered the league and there were all these stories about how he was going to convert the NBA to born-again Christianity?
- Ja Morant looks like what it’d look like if the Joker were drafted. The purple suit, the slim build, the big grin. His dad looks like a cross between Denzel Washington’s Malcolm Little/Detroit Red and Damon Wayans in Major Payne.
Your trivia answer re: the last non-freshman taken No. 1 overall: Blake Griffin.
This pick sparks joy.
Zion Williamson seeing RJ Barrett getting drafted by the New York Knicks pic.twitter.com/bBCxORGJnn— Ⓜ️arcusD ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) June 20, 2019
After weeks of dissecting, I’m just gonna enjoy these moments.
This moment between RJ Barrett and his dad pic.twitter.com/ZAADNSBr2d— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) June 21, 2019
RJ Barrett checking in with new Knicks teammate Kevin Knox over the phone after he finishes meeting with the media: pic.twitter.com/3qn4pvmrPp— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 21, 2019
- An ESPN graphic shows every occasion where two teammates were taken in the top three: Lew Alcindor and Lucius Allen; Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy; Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon; Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. I guess this’ll have to be the first time both ended up being All-Stars.
- You know how when you apply for a job, you’re not supposed to list a family member as a reference? ‘Cuz they’re obviously biased? Apparently no one at ESPN knows that, because after each selection they ask the players’ parents to tell us why their kids are awesome humans and will be outstanding players. If you’re gonna bloat the shit outta your coverage, at least give me something I can use.
- Looking at Adrian Wojnarowski, I doubt he ever drowned a bagful of kittens. I am certain he kicks his dog.
- Cleveland selects Darius Garland, whose highlights make me think the Cavs got a good one. Maybe good enough to move on from Collin Sexton, maybe sooner than later. In 1986 the Cavs acquired Mark Price in a draft-day trade; a year later they drafted Kevin Johnson. Because of Price’s presence, Cleveland was able to turn KJ into Larry Nance, who’d give the Cavs two All-Star seasons in his time there and birth a team the dynastic Celtics* called their biggest future threat.
*In the 20th century, unlike the 21st, Celtic dynasties were a reality and not a think-piece.
- Minnesota selects Jarrett Culver, who, it turns out, is a minister’s son. From one to another: I wish thee well, Jarrett Culver. That’s a tough road to hoe. Culver is already a 10-year vet as far as his command of bland, athlete-speak answers to every question.
- Chicago’s on the clock. Jim Boylen looks like he founded Blackwater.
- The Bulls select Coby White, the hair apparent (pun intended) to Elfrid Payton as the player whose hair white broadcasters will most trip over themselves obsessing over.
- Jaxson Hayes is going to New Orleans and so is Sideshow Bob.
- I like Rui Hachimura. I get a good vibe from him, for whatever that’s worth. But when I imagine being a Wizards fan, enduring all the misery and suffering last year and ending up with the ninth pick and Rui Hachimura? ¡Que Knicks-y!
- ESPN’s Maria Taylor tells Hachimura, who is half-Japanese, to talk about how meaningful this is for him... in Japanese. May there be a special place in Hell for people who treat multilingual people like animals who perform party tricks.
- You may not care for Cam Reddish, but when my six-year-old saw him she said, “That suit is the best I’ve ever seen. Even better than Clyde’s.” To be young and naive.
- The Suns select Cameron Johnson, who Jay Bilas calls “the best shooter in the draft,” which I’m pretty sure is what he called Garland a half-hour ago.
- Charlotte on the clock. After Bilas wows us by concluding the Hornets could either select the best player available or draft for need, Rece Davis transitions to Silver heading out with the pick. Before the camera pans away, Billups shows Bilas something on a note card, then looks disgusted. I assume it was a reminder that the Knicks picked up his option in 2011 and then used their one-time amnesty on him months later.
I expect Charlotte to take Nassir Little, because he played at UNC and so did Michael Jordan, and Jordan can literally afford to spend his next 100 lifetimes doing whatever he wants and not give a fuck. But the Hornets go for Kentucky’s P.J. Washington. I’m a sucker for Kentucky guys and for players with alphanumeric names ending in “J,” so book my ass a seat on this bandwagon today.
- ESPN has a camera following Zion backstage all night while he does remarkably athletic things like breathe and walk. Dave Chappelle did the same thing like 15 years ago, but at least he was joking.
- Miami picks Kentucky’s Tyler Herro. That dude LOOKS like a Heat. Jesus. The Rex Chapman vibes are strong with this kid. Not his game; Chapman was radically more athletic. But I see his face and it’s like Rex Chapman knocked up himself and gave birth to Herro.
Soon after, Jay Bilas gives a mad-played Austin Powers “Oh, behave!”, thereby absolving every sportscaster who still makes Seinfeld references for life.
- The Celtics land Romeo Langford. Davis throws it over to Maria Taylor via “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?” If you ever wondered why all English teachers seem kinda similar, it’s because of how rife the world is with errors of effort rather than execution. If you never heard this before, hear it now: “wherefore” means “why.” Not “where.” Pro’ly not something that will matter when summers get up to 140 degrees, but we gotta start to turn this shit we call a society around somewhere.
Every other draftee got in a minute or two with Taylor. She asks Langford one question and that. Is. It. He looks stunned, possibly even a little hurt. Maybe Taylor and ESPN didn’t expect Langford to be a lottery pick. Tough titties. He deserved the same treatment the prior 13 picks received.
- The Pistons pick Sekou Doumbouya. The wife says he and Frank Ntilikina would make beautiful babies together. She ain’t wrong.
Watching highlights, Doumbouya shoots mothafucking rrrrainbows. I’ll watch him play just for that.
- Adam Silver strutting to the podium with that Big Eunuch Energy, announcing the Magic choose Chuma Okeke, ‘cuz if there’s one thing Orlando needs, it’s another frontcourt piece.
ESPN’s Mike Schmitz says the analytics community loves Okeke, which I consider considering until he drops this and evaporates whatever credibility I may have granted him: “Kevin Pelton, ESPN.com’s ‘the genius of the numbers,’ had him ranked No. 2.”
ThE gEnIuS oF tHe NuMbErS hAd HiM rAnKeD nO. 2.
- Bol Bol is still waiting to be picked, sitting there with a glittery spiderweb on half his suit jacket. Draft that man! The rumors are a’coming.
Source tells me Knicks hunting a 1st rounder to take Bol Bol.— Reid Forgrave (@ReidForgrave) June 20, 2019
Turns out not everyone is as excited about this as I am.
- San Antonio picks Luka Šamanić. ’Cuz the Spurs are bound by oaths from the Time before Time to draft foreign players we’ve never heard of.
- Woj, who I sense was one of those kids who if he didn’t get called on when his hand was raised went “Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!” and would start rising out of his seat ‘cuz he needed everyone to know how smart he is, has to ruin the 76ers pick by announcing it before Silver could. It’s Matisse Thybulle, the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Thybulle gave a quite touching testimonial about his mother, who passed away. I’m not sure there’s ever been a year where so many selectees have lost a parent. It’s like Disney wrote this draft’s script.
- Portland selects Nassir Little, who expected to be drafted like an hour ago. In my house, where nobody besides me follows the NBA that closely, this is undoubtedly the high point of the night. My fiancee wonders why the NBA invites players to sit and wait knowing someone may get passed on or pushed back, risking embarrassing them. Pretty soon we go from wondering why to concluding they do it expressly for the purpose of creating drama. Nothing exceeds like excess.
- The Clippers land Mfiondu Kabengele, who is Dikeme Mutombo’s nephew. This is my chance to re-hash a story I heard from a friend who worked at a strip club in New Jersey back in the day. Around midnight one night, there was a buzz near the front door. My friend turned to see an entourage part and Mutombo strut through, hold his arms out wide and say, in his Cookie Monster-gravel voice, “WHO WANTS TO SEX UP MUTOMBO?!?” You’re welcome.
Get on that Bol Bol trade, Knicks!
- The Warriors select Jordan Poole. If you’ve ever seen Undercover Brother, Poole is the first person I’ve ever seen who packs a Smart Brother and Conspiracy Brother vibe all in one.
- Milwaukee picks Kevin Porter Jr., who talks about doing things for the community. I dig. You made a fan tonight, KPJ. Cleveland sent the Bucks four second-rounders and a draft-night record $5M for the rights to Porter Jr., so apparently he made more than one fan.
- The Pistons draft Pfc. Louden Downy from A Few Good Men.
- I am HEARTBROKEN when Mark Tatum announces Miami selects Bol. My heart recovers when it turns out he’s been traded to Denver. When Taylor asks a somber Bol about the cheers he heard when his name was called, he admits “I didn’t know I had that many fans until right now.”
- The Knicks trade up 8 spots to take Ignas Brazdeikis. The more I read up on this kid, the more I like this pick.
"Who the #$@% is Ignas Brazdeikis?" you ask.— Matthew Miranda (@MMiranda613) June 21, 2019
We got you, fam.https://t.co/b4z5QtbvFS
For Knicks fans, worth noting Barrett and Brazdeikis played together for Canada in 2016 during U17 World Cup team. They were the team's leading scorers.— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) June 21, 2019
This was a good night!
A good night indeed.
“YO I’M A KNICK” MAN THIS KID IS A LEGEND ALREADY!— EverythingKnicks (@EverythinKnicks) June 21, 2019
Ten days till free agency. Enjoy the minimal liminal while you can, amigos.