NBA Commissioner David Stern Thursday night “relished the boos from the Barclays Center crowd” in the last Draft before he retires, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. The boos are “something he traditionally receives from fans and he even played it up a bit, encouraging fans to boo louder” (USA TODAY, 6/28). ADVANCE PUBLICATION's Scott Branson named Stern one of the “winners” from the Draft. Branson wrote of Stern’s reaction to the boos, “Boy did he milk it.” Stern appeared to “genuinely enjoy the constant smattering of boos from the Brooklyn crowd, even taking time to stoke the fire from time to time.” Branson: “It was nice to see the longtime villain of the NBA enjoy his last moment in the spotlight” (NJ.com, 6/28). SPORTS ON EARTH’s Will Leitch writes there is “no way” Stern has “ever had more fun" at a Draft than he did Thursday. Stern has “always soaked in the inevitable boos” he receives at the Draft, but this year he “actively embraced them.” He was “clearly having the time of his life.” The Draft has “always been his night when everyone is watching, when he is at the total center of the world he has created.” Thursday was his last one, and “you could see him do everything in his substantial power to not let it go” (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 6/28).
GOING OUT WITH SOME PANACHE: As Stern walked on stage to begin the Draft, he was greeted by loud booing in Barclays Center and said to the crowd, "Good evening and thank you for that enthusiastic Brooklyn welcome." The crowd continued booing Stern each time he walked on stage to announce the next pick, and he would encourage the crowd by gesturing with his hand to bring more of the boos. For the third pick, Stern told the crowd, "I can't hear you," which elicited some very loud booing. Prior to announcing the 21st pick, Stern said, "We've had to explain to our international audience that the boo is an American sign of respect." Noting the boos were getting softer before pick No. 23, he said, "Your enthusiasm seems to be dwindling." As Stern walked on stage to announce his final pick, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and he acknowledged it by saying, "Stop it, you're ruining all the fun." NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who is succeeding Stern, later brought HOFer Hakeem Olajuwon on stage. Olajuwon, the first draft pick Stern announced in '84, embraced Stern, with Stern saying, "He still fits into the same tuxedo he wore in 1984." Olajuwon said, "I wanted to be here to honor the commissioner as he announces his very last NBA Draft picks. I'd also like to thank the commissioner for an amazing 30 years and all what he has done for the league and the players." ESPN's Rece Davis said, "That's why the NBA gets it with marketing. That's a great moment." He added the fans "were terrific." Davis: "It's been part of the fun over the last few years that when Adam Silver comes out, they go wild like he's a rock star. And then turn on him and boo him, which was terrific" ("2013 NBA Draft," ESPN, 6/27).
A MEMORABLE NIGHT: CBSSPORTS.com’s Matt Norlander wrote the Draft was "memorable because it was suspenseful and surprising." Norlander: "Dare I say: actually gripping, and better than this year's NFL Draft by a wide margin.” He added, “A lot of the proceedings were unpredictable. And funny. And will be David Stern's last as commissioner, making this moment an instant classic and all too appropriate.” Norlander continued: “We love sports -- or more specifically, the games -- because of that unknown factor. … Drafts offer that, but in a different, smaller way. A delayed way. Seldom do they actually provide surprise and buzz.” But Thursday night’s event “did.” Norlander: “That's why 2013 gave us the best draft I can remember” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/27).