Things got a little heated on Jim Rome’s radio talk show today when he had NBA commissioner David Stern on the air. Rome asked Stern if the NBA Draft Lottery is fixed.
Surprisingly, Stern denied it (we had all been expecting him to fess up to a rigged lottery, after all).
Stern replied, “I have two answers to that. I’ll give you the easy one: no. And a statement: shame on you for asking.” Stern, evidently (somewhat reasonably) offended by the question, continued, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” Rome and Stern debated the topic, with Rome pointing to the large number of people that believe the lottery is fixed, while Stern defended the league, essentially saying they were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“I think if [the number one pick] had gone to Michael Jordan [and the Charlotte Bobcats]… people would have said, ‘Oh, David’s taking care of his friend Michael'”, Stern argued. “If it had gone to Brooklyn, which is going into Barclay Center, it would’ve been fair to speculate, I suppose, that we want to take Brooklyn off of the mat. So there was no winning.”
Stern makes a point that an argument could always be made that the lottery is fixed no matter who wins. However, this year, the Bobcats were by far the worst team in the NBA, and people were expecting them to receive the number one pick. Instead, when it went to New Orleans, a team that lost its superstar in Chris Paul this year, and had just been bought from the league. The year before, the Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the league, but the Cleveland Cavaliers were awarded the number one pick, the year after they were snubbed by LeBron James.
Of course, there have been other theories that the draft has been fixed, but there also have been other years where the team that won the number one pick wasn’t all that surprisingly.
Stern said the idea is brought up as a cheap trick for media outlets to get an audience, and said Rome has made a living out of it. Rome took offense to the statement, and the interview ended shortly after with an awkward exchange of goodbyes.