Tonight, is a night that NBA conspiracy theorists love…NBA Draft Lottery. Since 1985, there have been questions about whether the lottery is rigged. Other leagues have a draft lottery, but theirs never has the same amount of anticipation of who will “beat the odds” (wink, wink) and get the number one pick. Everyone wants that number one spot to either change the fortunes of their franchise or to use as trade bait to get the one missing piece for a championship run.
In 1985, the lottery was instituted due to claims that it was unfair the worst team in each conference would flip a coin for the number spot. Patrick Ewing, one of the greatest college players was being coveted by teams. David Stern reached into the hopper and pulled the Knicks’ envelope as the team with the number one pick. The theories began flying around on how that particular envelope was selected; the envelope was cold, or the corner was bent. It is believed he wound up in New York to help get a TV contract with the biggest rookie playing in the biggest market.
Some felt that Chicago got “lucky” when the lottery went in their favor and they received the first pick and Chicago-born Derrick Rose; the Bulls had less than 2% chance to get the number one pick. There were also claims of rigging for Cleveland to get Lebron James and the Wizards getting the number one pick after bringing on Michael Jordan.
The league has made many changes over the years to be transparent and fight against the theories. This year the event will be virtual, a perfect scenario for the conspiracy theorists. There are less witnesses for the drawing and when relying on technology there is always a chance of something going wrong. So, in the past there may have been lucky coincidences, but this year would be the best year for the lottery to actually be rigged. Chicago and New York have been struggling and could use a boost with the number one pick, but that would never happen…again.