Draft Lottery Reflections: Rick Pitino & The Boston Celtics Hedged On Tim Duncan & Lost
Tonight, the NBA is holding their annual draft lottery. The basketball world be watching, wanting to know who will get the opportunity to draft Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. But the draft lottery doesn’t always work out as planned. Just think back ten years ago to Rick Pitino and the Boston Celtics….
During the 1990’s, Rick Pitino was having his Billy Donovan moment.
Everything, and I do mean everything, Pitino touched turned to gold. His Kentucky Wildcats were the toast of college basketball. NBA franchises were throwing truckloads of cash at him.
Pitino resisted the Benjamins, but eventually jumped to the NBA, accepting a ten-year, fifty million-dollar contract offer from the Boston Celtics.
He joined the cellar-dwelling Celtics for one reason: Pitino reasoned that the green-and-white would probably land Tim Duncan in the upcoming draft lottery.
After all, Boston had two lottery picks and finished with one of the NBA’s worst records.
But the tiny, white ping-pong balls bounced San Antonio’s way. The Spurs won the first overall pick and selected Duncan.
The Spurs have been perennial contenders ever since, while the Celtics ended up with a very raw Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer.
Pitino was too impatient for Billups. Mercer was a disappointment. His midas touch had ended with the Celtics and Pitino was back in college basketball within a few years.
All because of a few little ping pong balls.
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