- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The NBA Draft, last night’s in particular, is forged with a prayer and a lucky charm in the absence of a guarantee.

Neither the prayerful act nor the feel-good symbol eliminates the subsequent embarrassments, whether it is a gun charge, a paternity suit or a failure to aspire to be the best.

The NBA’s selection process is in the company of pin the tail on the donkey, regardless of the interviews, workouts, background checks and psychological profiles.

To borrow from Forrest Gump, the draft is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you are going to get.

The personnel gurus of the NBA routinely make mistakes, some worse than others.

In the lexicon of the times, length is one of the overstated qualities of the spiffily dressed in the Green Room. If all it took were length to compete at a high level in the NBA, Michael Olowokandi would be an All-Star by now instead of a warning to the replenishment process of June.

History shows the fallibility of the instant analysis.

At the time, Polynice was moving from the high-profile arena of the ACC and Pippen from the modest outpost of Central Arkansas and the NAIA umbrella.

Television contributes to the prejudice, perhaps less so now than then, as revealed by the list of professional disappointments from Duke.

The high school prejudice relegated Kevin Garnett to the fifth pick overall in 1995 and Kobe Bryant to the 13th pick overall the next year.

The European prejudice allowed Dirk Nowitzki to stay on the draft board until it was the turn of the Bucks with the ninth pick overall in 1998.

Consider the laughable transaction that followed: Nowitzki and Pat Garrity to the Mavericks and Robert Traylor to the Bucks.

The prejudice has passed, as more and more NBA teams resemble entities of the United Nations and a good number of the bodies taking up roster spots rarely need to shave.

To their everlasting regret, Michael Jordan and the Wizards signaled the end of the high school prejudice in 2001, with the selection of Kwame Brown as the No. 1 pick overall.

Four years later, Gilbert Arenas can pass out indictments to all of the NBA parties after being left until the 31st pick overall in 2001, and that includes the Warriors team that selected Arenas after taking Jason Richardson and Troy Murphy in the first round.

NBA general managers follow certain templates going into the draft until someone puts a lie to them.

A high-scoring shooting guard could not lead a team to the NBA championship until Jordan did just that — six times, in fact.

Magic Johnson somehow avoided the common coaching wisdom of the ‘70s that compelled 6-foot-9 players to be placed in the frontcourt instead of the backcourt.

No one has evaluated the point guard position the same since Johnson led the Lakers to five championships in the ‘80s.

Just last week, before Game 7, Tim Duncan was said to lack the requisite nastiness to lead the Spurs past the Pistons.

Now after leading the Spurs to their third championship in seven seasons, Duncan has shown, categorically, that easygoing guys can finish first.

There was a jewel or two in last night’s draft, just impossible to say who.

No one gave a moment’s thought to the 57th pick overall of the 1999 draft.

The Spurs used that choice on Manu Ginobili.


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