Hornets Win NBA Lottery's Top Spot, Number One Pick Could Help "Rebirth" Of Team
The Hornets won the NBA lottery last night “jumping past three” teams to seal the No. 1 spot and likely draft pick Anthony Davis, according to the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE's Jimmy Smith, who writes under the header, “Winning NBA Lottery Could Accelerate New Orleans Hornets’ Rebirth.” It is the “second time in franchise history that the Hornets have beaten long odds to win the lottery,” but the first since the team relocated to New Orleans 10 years ago. Hornets coach Monty Williams, who represented the team on stage, Saints and Hornets Owner Tom Benson, his wife Gayle and Saints Vice Chair Rita Benson LeBlanc were all in attendance. Williams said, “We’ve had a lot of good stuff happen to us the last few weeks. The Benson family has taken over our team. We were in good hands with Commissioner Stern; our guys worked hard all year long and we just feel blessed to be in this position.” He added, “It’s great for the city, great for the state of Louisiana. We’re really excited right now” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/31). In New Orleans, John DeShazier writes the team “added to its recent run of good fortune, the first giant step being when the franchise negotiated a long-term lease agreement with the state, the second being when” Benson agreed to buy the team from the league. Whether it is “hard work rewarded, repayment for misery or league intervention ... it happened.” DeShazier: “And New Orleans certainly isn’t going to apologize for it” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/31). NBA.com’s John Schuhmann wrote the pick is “part of a fresh start for the Hornets franchise.” Benson recently purchased the team from the NBA, “ensuring a long-term commitment to the Crescent City” (NBA.com, 5/30).
A GODSEND FOR THE HORNETS: SI.com’s Sam Amick wrote “you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in NBA circles who isn’t convinced the Hornets are runaway winners of this latest lottery” (SI.com, 5/30). SPORTING NEWS’ David Steele asked, “Has there ever been a bigger trade in the history of American sports that never actually happened?” Did the Hornets "know for sure back in December that by not being allowed to trade Chris Paul to the Lakers, they’d end up essentially trading him for Anthony Davis?” Steele: “Let’s not be Pollyanna-ish and act as if this isn’t a godsend for the NBA, the Hornets, new owner Tom Benson and a very strong basketball operation that worked miracles the past couple of years under nightmarish conditions” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/30). Meanwhile, in Chattanooga, Mark Wiedmer writes under the header, “New Orleans Hornets’ Draft Gain Is Another Blow For Michael Jordan.” The Bobcats had a 25% chance of landing the No. 1 pick, and no team needed a player like Davis “more than Charlotte.” Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan “is again about to have his hoops acumen sternly tested” (CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS, 5/31).
LET THE CONSPIRACY THEORIES BEGIN: YAHOO SPORTS’ Adrian Wojnarowski wrote the reaction of several league execs to the lottery results last night “was part disgust, part resignation.” So many "had predicted this happening, so many suspected that somehow, someway, the Hornets would walk away with Davis.” That is the “worst part for the NBA; these aren't the railings from the guy sitting at the corner tavern, but the belief of those working within the machinery that something undue happened here, that they suspect it happens all the time under Stern.” There is no proof the league or NBA Commissioner David Stern arranged for the Hornets to win, but there is “an appearance of impropriety … that marches arm-and-arm with Stern into the twilight of his commissionership, marches right out the door with him.” Wojnarowski wrote execs within the league and various NBA franchises are “suspicious, dubious, and the Hornets' winning the lottery fed all of that in an immense way.” This is “the problem for Stern, and will always be: Within his own league, they're dubious about him” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/30). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Jeff Blair writes the lottery "continued an uncanny knack commissioner David Stern has of seeing needy franchises get an extra lifeline.” Blair: “Funny how that happens, eh?” (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/31). However, the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson noted he previosuly was allowed to "sit in a sealed room and see how the process works." He noted the lottery is “not rigged because I was not even allowed to go to the bathroom without a security guard.” Johnson: "It was the most mind numbingly boring experience of my entire life” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 5/30). Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer, who was in the room last night, said, “If this is fixed, this is the greatest fix ever. Watching the process, there’s no way it can be fixed” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 5/31).
TIME TO END IT ALL: WFAN-AM’s Joe Benigno said the NBA should get rid of the lottery. He said, “There’s no bigger joke to me than the NBA Draft Lottery. If you have the worst record in the league, you should get the No. 1 pick. ... I always think this lottery it is a little shady to begin with” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 5/30). SportsNet N.Y.’s Adam Schein: “By the way, can we get rid of the lottery? Make it like the NFL, where the worst team gets the No. 1 overall pick. Enough with the archaic lottery” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 5/30).