New Orleans won the NBA Draft Lottery Wednesday night.
That’s right, the team owned by the league that just lured a new owner’s money — $338 million of it — into the NBA just happened to wind up with the draft’s first overall pick, which will surely be Anthony Davis.
Which caused Chicago guard Rip Hamilton to tweet: “Who thinks the lottery was rigged?”
And had former Cavs guard Anthony Parker tweeting that this result was not surprising.
They weren’t the only players to wonder about the result, as this list from iamagm.com shows.
Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that New Orleans winning the lottery was “the perfect punctuation on the commissioner’s manipulation of the sale and salvation of a lost franchise.”
Let’s see how this went.
First, the Hornets worked out a trade with the Lakers for Chris Paul that the commissioner voided as a “basketball decision.”
Then, another trade for Paul went through that sent him to the Clippers.
Then, the NBA had to convince Tom Benson, the owner of the Saints, to buy the Hornets.
Then, the Hornets tanked their end of the season games to increase their lottery odds.
Now the Hornets win the lottery.
In the same Yahoo story, a league executive anonymously said: “It’s such a joke that the league made the new owners be at the lottery for the show. 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.”
The people making these complaints are inside the league, not wackos from the outside creating stuff.
The league goes to great lengths to say that the lottery is unbiased and fair. It has officials from teams in the room when the actual ping-pong balls come out of the machine (or however it is that they do it).
But when New Orleans wins the lottery and jumps from fourth to first, eyebrows are raised, suspicions grow, questions are asked and smirks grow longer.
Conspiracy cries could follow any team. The league favored Michael Jordan (if Charlotte won). It wanted the new team in Brooklyn to start strong. It wanted Cleveland to win again. SI.com even had a reporter in the room when the ping pong balls came out of the machine, and Zach Lowe reported folks from other teams were kidding New Orleans GM Dell Demps that the fix was in.
But only 18 percent of those voting in a USA Today online poll (note: results not scientific) said the lottery is not fixed while fifty-four percent said that it is. Meanwhile, 28 percent said it could be fixed, meaning 82 percent believe there’s a pretty good chance that it is.
And the conspiracy theorists continue their chatter.