|The second ping-pong ball on the grass knoll struck Wednesday night, some believe. (Getty Images)|
No matter how ridiculous it is, this keeps coming up. The idea that the NBA has rigged the draft lottery to provide the result it wanted. In this instance, giving the New Orleans Hornets the No.1 overall pick in order to sweeten the deal with new owner Tom Benson, who hasn't signed the paperwork yet.
And it's not just random yahoos on the internet. No, no, it's Yahoo Sports, which says that league personnel have the same concern:
"It's such a joke that the league made the new owners be at the lottery for the show," one high-ranking team executive told Yahoo! Sports. "The league still owns the Hornets. Ask their front office if new owners can make a trade right now. They can't. This is a joke."
Hornets coach Monty Williams represented the franchise at the draft lottery. (AP)
The reaction of several league executives was part disgust, part resignation on Wednesday night. So many had predicted this happening, so many suspected that somehow, someway, the Hornets would walk away with Davis. That's the worst part for the NBA; these aren't the railings from the guy sitting at the corner tavern, but the belief of those working within the machinery that something undue happened here, that they suspect it happens all the time under Stern.
via NBA's problematic ownership of Hornets opens door to talk of rigged draft lottery - Yahoo! Sports.
Let's say for a minute that the NBA decided this was a good idea. How would they go about it? Well, for starters, they wouldn't just do it. They would commission an internal report outlining the pros and cons of perpetrating a massive conspiracy on the public while also violating several tenets of fair practice in its relationships with the owners of the other 29 teams. Now, they would need for that report to indicate that the benefit of providing a first-round draft pick that could just as easily turn out to be a bust as a Hall of Famer outweighs the potential for public humiliation and rejection of their product, lawsuits from their owners and possibly the violation of federal law.
Yeah, that definitely sounds worth it.
So assuming that report comes back with that magical conclusion, which it would not, they'd have to go about putting it into effect. Easy enough. Magnetize the ping pong balls, however you want to do it, getting the balls to pop up is easy. Of course, they don't have complete control over this, the process is overseen by the accounting firm of Ernst and Young, which if brought in on the scam, would also be liable for whatever consequences the reveal of the vast, dark conspiracy would hold. But hey, they're lawers, let's say that works.
Then all they have to do is manage to pepetrate the fraud without alerting the other owners or by bringing them in on it, and then make sure that the hundred or so people who would have to be involved in this process don't leak it. You know, this from the same league that can't keep its voting, officiating, or front office decisions under wraps.
That sounds likely. Wait, did I say likely? I meant completely and totally implausible in any scenario.
Look, if you want to go down this road, we can make a case for any team to be pre-picked as the lottery winner.
Nets: Making it up to Mikhail Prokhorov for missing out in 2010, as well as thanking him for his investment in helping move the team to Brooklyn.
Kings: Providing impetus to help the Maloofs out financially to convince them to keep the team in Sacramento.
Cavaliers: Retribution for the Decision, Part II.
Rockets: An apology for vetoing the Chris Paul trade, which Houston shouldn't have done anyway because have you seen Pau Gasol lately?
Wizards: Making it up to Ted Leonsis for failure to implement a hockey-style hard cap in the lockout negotiations.
Suns: Same deal, only with Robert Sarver.
We can go on and on. The NBA has never given the breaks to small markets. Conversely, no one was complaining when the Chicago Bulls won the Derrick Rose sweepstakes with a 1.7 percent chance. But all of a sudden the pick goes to New Orleans, which had a little better than a 1-in-10 chance to win the lottery, and it's some dark cloud over the league?
There is a ton to not like about the NBA, a lot of instances where the league manipulates conditions to be favorable toward what they want. But this? This is like the X-Files, if the X-Files were stupid and badly conceived, then completely overdramatic.