What’s good, basketball fans?
Having the good fortune to be in New York and in possession of a ticket to the draft, I decided to take notes so that you folks who didn’t have the chance to be in the Madison Square Garden theatre in person could gain a little insight into the mood in the World’s Most Famous Arena last night. What follows is a reproduction of my real-time comments as the new class of rookies found their NBA homes.
Let’s get right into it.
– Since I missed the press credential application deadline, my spot is out in the fifteen-dollar seating. Way out. From where I’m posted up, David Stern’s podium looks like a Pez dispenser, and the big screens are obscured by the theatre speakers. Fortunately, those of us in a different area code from the main stage have been provided with radios so that we can at least hear what’s going on.
– I can’t see it, but I know that JJ Redick has shown up onscreen from the boos all around me and the repeated yells of “F*ck you, JJ” from a tubby guy behind me. I’m half-hoping New York drafts him just to see what happens.
– A “Fire Isiah” chant breaks out in my corner of the arena but quickly dies down. I’ve a feeling the fans will have a better go at it later.
– Minutes later, a “Sell the Knicks, Dolan” chant has greater success, but also fizzles out before it can take hold of the room.
– The league is really pushing the new ball. Thousands of pamphlets extolling its virtues litter the floor, and a full rack of them is positioned prominently on the main stage. Most of the fans I’ve spoken to, however, don’t seem to give even a fraction of a crap. Keep trying, NBA.
– Perhaps because they’ve had to wait so long, the crowd warmly applauds David Stern when he finally steps up to the mic. When he announces that Andrea Bargnani is the first pick of the draft, however, the cheers quickly turn to jeers.
– Unsurprisingly, the expert commentary does little to sway the theatre’s opinion of Bargnani. A man two rows in front of me asks his Italian-American friend “How about your boy?” He responds with a single finger.
– The best heckle of the evening thus far comes when an inebriated gentlemen wearing a Channing Frye jersey screams out “Good job, Andrea!”, pronouncing “Andrea” like the woman’s name. I guess you had to be there.
– With “Chicago Bulls” showing on the screen, the New York fans see red, literally and figuratively. Two men begin a “Where’s our draft pick?” chant that quickly sweeps the arena.
– A skinny kid in the lower level wearing a Jordan jersey stands up and taunts the fans in the back. They don’t like that.
– The announcement of LaMarcus Aldridge’s selection isn’t received well either. That said, I’ve a feeling the crowd is lamenting their lack of a draft pick rather than attacking Aldridge himself.
– Charlotte’s choice to take Adam Morrison, however, is met with approval.
– An old guy a few seats over remarks that Morrison looks like an extra in a Mexican pornography movie. It’s at this exact moment that the man to my left decides that he’s had enough of his hotdog.
– Dick Vitale claims that Morrison is the “most NBA-ready player in the draft.” Given that nobody plays defence nowadays, he might just be right.
– Tyrus Thomas is announced as the fourth pick, and his ability to step out and shoot is immediately overstated. To paraphrase Kenny Smith, nobody misses in the highlights.
– Stephen A. Smith (known as “Screamin’ A.” around here) makes his first hyperbolic comments of the evening, and the crowd lets him know they’d rather he didn’t talk. It doesn’t discourage him.
– Shelden Williams is booed as much as anyone but JJ Redick thus far. It’s hard to tell whether that’s a standard reflex against a Duke player or something more personal.
– The crowd anticipates Randy Foye, and the announcement of Brandon Roy initially causes confusion when fans mix up the names.
– Apparently, the Blazers wanted Brandon Roy at seven, as did Houston, who are now said to be planning to trade the eighth pick for Shane Battier.
– Is it just me, or does Brandon Roy sound a lot like Guru?
– Randy Foye might be the most popular player in the building. The cheers continue through his highlight reel and beyond. I find it funny that he’s given a Boston cap.
– As expected, Rudy Gay goes at eight, although it’s pretty clear that he won’t end up in Houston. Screamin’ A suggests that they keep him, but there’s not much logic to his argument.
– Patrick O’Bryant is taken at nine, and the crowd’s response is a mixture of laughter and half-hearted cheers. I think I’d rather be booed.
– There’s talk of a Brandon Roy-Randy Foye swap on the cards. Easier done than said in this case.
– “Moo-uh…ham-m-mad Sene” is Stern’s best attempt at the tenth pick’s name. There’s a reason we know him as “Saer”, Dave.
– He might be, as is said more than once, “raw as sushi”, but a 7’8’’ wingspan means he’ll at least be able to provide a few blocks and boards as he learns the game.
– JJ Redick’s name is met with a mixed reception. Most disapprove, but a section of college kids in front cheer wildly and wave banners. A chant of “D-U-I” doesn’t last long.
– A chant of “o-ver-rated” does, however.
– I don’t know much about Hilton Armstrong, but I find it unfortunate that he’s immediately compared to Elden Campbell.
– Dave steps out and announces that Thabo Sefolosha has been selected. So that’s how you pronounce it.
– He might allegedly have experience and toughness, but that doesn’t sell most of the fans in my section on him.
– “Do I keep the hat on?” I like this guy already.
– While Ronnie Brewer gets a moderate cheer, nobody seems to care much about Cedric Simmons. The crowd quickly turns their attention back to heckling James Dolan.
– Rodney Carney’s selection brings the noise level up again, and Dave’s ominous “We have a trade” nearly causes a riot. New York fans are expecting something that affects them, but it turns out that LaMarcus Aldridge and a future second-round pick have been swapped for Tyrus Thomas and Victor Khryapa.
– When Shawne Williams goes at seventeen, Marcus Williams’ name is brought up seriously as the Knicks’ potential pick for the first time.
– Oleksiy Pecherov is taken at nineteen, but the focus is all on Marcus Williams now. A handful of fans start to scream “One pick more” and the stands slowly rise to their feet in anticipation of New York’s pick.
– By the time the last syllable of “Quincy Douby” has left Dave’s lips, a deafening chant of “Mar-cus Will-iams” has broken out.
– When it dies down, it’s replaced by the loudest – and funniest – chant of the night: “Let’s go, Knicks. Don’t f*ck it up!”
– “With the twentieth pick of the NBA draft, the New York Knickerbockers select Ro…” That’s the last thing I remember before the riot broke out.
– One of the men in front of me turns back and says “Sucks, doesn’t it?” I’m pretty proud to be able to tell him that I support the Heat. He doesn’t find it all that funny.
– Spike Lee, ever the optimist when it comes to his team, calls Ro’ a “sleeper” pick. I think he’s confusing sleep and unconsciousness there.
– Rajon Rondo’s selection doesn’t garner much attention. By now, the New Jersey fans who took the trip across the Hudson are focused on their upcoming picks.
– Marcus Williams is finally gone, having the dubious distinction of being the last guy to get out of the green room.
– The Knicks might be a lost cause, but a man behind me salvages some hope for New York with his yells of “Coming to Brooklyn! Coming to Brooklyn!”
– When the Nets take Josh Boone with the next pick, I get the feeling that much of the crowd has begun to count the days until the 2009 season tips off. If the Knicks aren’t careful, they’re going to lose Brooklyn when the Nets move across the river, and there’s a good chance The Bronx and Queens will switch allegiances as well.
– Honestly, from here on out, there’s not much I could add to what you would have seen on television. The Knicks’ twenty-ninth pick (Mardy Collins) causes many of the fans take of their caps or jerseys, and most of the crowd has filtered out by the time Russ Granik takes the stage. By the time the thirty-fifth pick has been announced, I’m shattered, and decide that I’ve seen enough kids get rich for one evening.
Let us know what you thought of your team’s selections either by commenting in the box below or by emailing me directly at [email protected].