- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2000

The Kansas City Kings picked Bruce Jenner in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA Draft.

This was back when NBA teams often drew improbable names out of a hat to fill their late-round slots.

The Nets took Vic Sison in the 10th round of the 1981 draft. Sison, in case you were wondering, was the manager of the UCLA team that advanced to the Final Four in 1980. Sison's connection to the NBA was Larry Brown, the coach at UCLA before he jumped to the Nets.

The NBA's 29 teams could do no worse tonight in Jesse Ventura's ice box, although the draft, to minimize the bookkeeping, now lasts only two rounds.

Marty Blake, the NBA's scouting guru, insists this is a deep draft. It must depend on how you define deep.

The Wizards are merely neck-deep in quicksand, reduced to looking for the best player available with the 35th pick. That means the player must be able to breathe under his own power.

So completes Chris Webber's handiwork in Tony Cheng's neighborhood. Here goes the last of three first-round draft picks to Golden State.

Webber, driven out of town by Mark Fuhrman, if not the one-armed man and the man on the grassy knoll, has tried to reinvent himself in Sacramento. Give him that. He also has put up better numbers than Jenner, and one of these postseasons, he is bound to lead a team beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Tony Gwynn has put on a few pounds since he was selected by the Clippers in the 10th round of the 1981 draft.

The Clippers are not unlike the Wizards, the two perpetually stuck in the NBA's spin cycle.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was solicited to help Michael Olowokandi, the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft. That was harder than coaching on an Indian reservation, and Abdul-Jabbar did that, too.

Kenyon Martin is said to be the best of the 2000 litter, and that is with a broken leg. No one is perfect, and this draft class is a testament of that.

Chris Mihm is a 7-footer whose appeal goes up one day and down the next. You can't teach height. But you can't teach Greg Ostertag, either. Mihm is caught between the two.

Darius Miles is the prep phenom of the moment. Is he the next Kobe Bryant or the next Bill Willoughby? Either way, the general manager and coach might not be around to find out.

Basketball is not a science. It only seems that way on draft night. They can't measure a player's fortitude. They can measure a player's hands. To NBA types, having small hands is worse than having cooties. At least in grade school, you could pass the cooties to a classmate.

David Stern, who has recovered from Dennis Rodman, shakes hands with the best, the small hands as well as the large ones.

Draft night is the one night of the year when everyone in the NBA can pretend to have a secret. This does not necessarily include Jeff Van Ankle Weight's hair plugs.

Pouting is permitted. Look what pouting did for Steve Francis.

Here's what Francis said from Vancouver last July after being criticized for pouting: "It's a blessing… . The weather here is a lot better than in Washington."

Here's what Francis said this week after playing in Houston last season: "Winning, losing, happy or sad, I am going to let people know how I feel. I wouldn't be myself if I didn't."

You be yourself.

But what happened to the blessing and weather in Vancouver? Is this a "Me, Myself and Houston" thing?

To be safe, you can dismiss all 58 picks and hit 75 percent. Hindsight reveals the other 25 percent.

How can you explain Charles Barkley, a 6-5 power forward who had a weight problem coming out of Auburn, drafted fifth in 1984? Or Karl Malone, the 13th player chosen in the 1985 draft who has a chance to surpass Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time leading scorer?

You can't explain it on draft night.

Instead, the talk is of small hands or long arms, quick feet or big feet, and the 6-8 players who become 5-8 after they have been measured by someone other than a sports information director.

The talk is harmless, intended only to fill time, and nothing against Sam Bowie.

Portland was the guilty party that chose Bowie over Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft.

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