I love that the NBA rigged it for the Knicks in 1985, the Magic in 1992 and 1993, the Wizards in 2001, the Cavaliers in 2003 and then double-reverse-rigged-it last year just to shut us conspiracy theorists up. I love how the league - even though there is no logical reason to do this unless they are, in fact, rigging it - refuses to show the ping pong balls come out. I love that there's always a security guard or whatever from Price Waterhouse Coopers who "independently verifies" the results in the back room...as if that's supposed to nullify our concerns of it being rigged. And most of all, I love the random "representatives" from each team, particularly Clippers' "GM" Elgin Baylor who must keep a second home in Secaucus, New Jersey since he's there so often.
From 1981 to 1990, the Denver Nuggets participated in zero NBA Draft Lotteries (even though the lottery didn't officially begin until 1985). And therefore, as a kid I always looked forward to the Nuggets possibly making a splash in the postseason. Who we could possibly draft in July just never occurred to me in May.
But from 1991 to 2003, the Nuggets participated in 10 NBA Draft Lotteries. 10! In seven of those lotteries, the Nuggets had a legitimate chance of getting the first pick. And in three, they were favored to get the first overall pick. Given the ineptitude on the floor and in the front office, you can see why this quickly became my most treasured night of the year as a Nuggets fan. It was the only night all year that gave us Nuggets fans any hope.
And yet, over the course of 10 NBA Draft Lotteries, the Nuggets never did better than getting the third pick in the draft.
In 1992, with Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning on the line, the Nuggets ended up with the fifth pick and LaPhonso Ellis (my all-time favorite Nugget, by the way, but certainly no Shaq or Zo).
In 1993, with Chris Webber and Anfernee Hardaway on the line, the Nuggets ended up with the ninth pick and Rodney Rogers (and his weight problem).
In 1997, with Tim Duncan on the line, the Nuggets ended up with the fifth pick again and this time Tony "El Busto" Battie.
In 1998, with Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki on the line, the Nuggets ended up with the third pick and Raef LaFrentz (oh, wait, Carter, Jamison, Pierce and Nowitzki were drafted after number three...who's the idiot that passed them over??).
(And while we're at it, who's the idiot that traded our lottery picks from 1999 to 2001 that potentially could have turned into Elton Brand, Baron Davis or Pau Gasol?).