My dad and I have enjoyed a tradition of watching the NBA Draft together since 1992. The Sixers picked Clearance Weatherspoon that year, and I remember my dad proclaiming that "the 'Spoon" would be the next Charles Barkley. For a while, it looked like Weatherspoon was heading that way, but he plateaued and never improved after his third or fourth season. Nevertheless, the hope that the 76ers could upgrade their roster by landing a gem made the draft extremely appealing.
Throughout the years, the 76ers would disappoint us. They picked Shawn Bradley and Sharone Wright after Weatherspoon, and then they chose Jerry Stackhouse over Kevin Garnett. After getting Allen Iverson right, they managed to obtain Tim Thomas and then went with Larry Hughes over both Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki the following year. My dad and I came to expect the worst out of the Sixers, but watching the draft has always been a blast. Nine years ago, I began a live NBA Draft blog, and that added to the experience.
Unfortunately, it has gotten harder to watch the NBA Draft. ESPN's cookie-cutter analysis sucks - I miss Barkley and TNT's coverage - and hearing some random foreigner picked every other selection in the second round is irritating. The worst part is the hubris of all of these athletes. They've always been cocky, but they've gotten so much worse in recent years.
The 2015 NBA Draft hit an all-time low. One player referred to himself as a "jewel." Another talked about himself in the third person. One athlete seemed to have diamond spikes on his shoes. Another guy took numerous pictures of himself with a selfie stick - the emblematic abomination of this new "all about me" culture that is ruining Western civilization.
It would be one thing if these people were accomplished, professional athletes who've enjoyed a long, successful career in the NBA. It would still behoove them to be humble and likable, but arrogance on their part would at least be defensible because they've done something with their lives. The 2015 NBA Draft prospects, however, have done nothing thus far. Half of them, according to history, will amount to nothing as professionals. They'll bust - yes, they are busts, Jalen Rose - which begs the question, what did they do to deserve to be so conceited in the first place?
Sadly, there's no solution to this. Young idiots will continue to buy selfie sticks and believe that they are the center of the universe, and they'll keep annoying me until I finally snap and stop doing these live blogs, and perhaps cease watching the NBA Draft all together. I love tuning into the draft with my dad, but I fear that I'm approaching my breaking point.
Sorry for all the complaining. My intention was to list the winners and losers from the 2015 NBA Draft (pertaining to the media) and talk about how the NBA Draft can be improved, but I had to get that off my chest.
National Media - Winners and Losers:
Because ESPN has monopolized the coverage of the NBA Draft, I can only discuss those associated with the "worldwide leader." Here are ESPN's winners and losers from draft night:
1. Rece Davis - It was nice to see a professional ESPN anchor for a change. No dumb catch phrases, no mindless mumbling, no cryptic references from the 60s, no obscure slang. Davis just did his job, and I appreciated that.
2. Shannon Spake - I referred to her as the "hot red-head sideline reporter" and "Shannon the Sideline Reporter" on my NBA Draft live blog, but I actually took the time to look up her name today. Spake breathed life into a miserable telecast, and I was always looking forward to seeing her on TV.
1. Jalen Rose - I never cared too much about Jalen Rose's incompetence when it came to the English language because he and Bill Simmons had great chemistry together. Now that Simmons is gone - more on that later - the blemishes are quite apparent. Rose spent the entire night sounding like a bumbling buffoon, especially when he proclaimed that no NBA player was capable of being a bust because they were making millions of dollars.
It was the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Two things: First, NBA fans pay lots of money for tickets and merchandise to watch basketball players compete for their favorite team. They're both emotionally and financially invested into their squad. Their money goes into paying those players, so when a particular athlete fails to live up to expectations, the fan feels cheated. In Rose's world, however, there's no such thing as an athlete not living up to his standards. Thus, Rose is asking the fans to keep shelling out their hard-earned money to pay a top-10 pick who is averaging just five points per game. How does that make any sense?
Second, Rose neglected to bring up the fact that many athletes go bankrupt following retirement. Many of these "busts" get only one contract, so they're even more likely to lose all of their money. This makes Rose's point invalid, since his entire argument was centered on players not being busts because they make millions. Sure, they make millions at one point, but thanks to irresponsible spending and no compensation beyond their actual career, the money dries up quickly. Are they still not busts even though they have less than $100 in their bank account at some point down the road, Jalen?
Rose needs to go. Like I said, I enjoyed him with Simmons, but I can't listen to him stammer through another grammatically incorrect sentence.
2. Chris Broussard - Speaking of ESPN employees who can't speak English, glorified sideline reporter Chris Broussard was dispatched to find out whom the Knicks were picking. This is what he came up with:
Whoops! Broussard was way off, and it was obvious at the time that he would be wrong. Phil Jackson has always had a veteran point guard running his offense, and other reports indicated that he wanted another one. So, why did Broussard think New York was picking Emmanuel Mudiay? It made no sense. Mudiay was probably the last player Jackson was considering.
3. ESPN - The "worldwide leader" as a whole was a loser. The NBA Draft coverage as a whole was putrid. It began with some homeless, shirtless rapper performing on SportsCenter, citing profound lyrics like "holda holda holda holda holda we dem boys, holda holda holda holda holda holda we makin' noise." It was clearer than ever that we are in the dark ages of music.
Rose, as mentioned, was insufferable. Jay Williams and Jay Bilas weren't any good either. My dad noticed it when he said, "Everyone is a great player according to them! Great shooter, great passer, great defender, everyone is great!" It's true. Neither Williams nor Bilas was able to criticize anyone, and as for Rose, well, I'm not sure what he was trying to say.
Simmons was missed. I hated his blatant Boston bias, but he was never afraid to call anyone out. The war of words he had with Doc Rivers a few years ago was epic. We need more of that.
Speaking of which, where was Simmons? I know ESPN stupidly decided not to renew his contract, but I thought he was still working for them through September. If so, why not include him as part of the telecast for both the draft and the playoffs? ESPN's NBA coverage has been infinitely worse without Simmons, which begs the question, what the hell is ESPN thinking by letting him walk? ESPN idiotically pays brain-dead racists like Stephen A. Smith and obvious trolls like Skip Bayless millions of dollars, yet they're not willing to keep Simmons? So stupid.
Oh, and I look forward to the decline of Grantland with Simmons gone. ESPN should've brought in a young writer who could connect with the audience as a replacement, but they foolishly hired some old doofus to take Simmons' spot. Goodbye, Grantland.
4. Carmelo Anthony - The Knicks' ball-hogging, inefficient forward isn't part of ESPN, but I'm listing him here because he told the "media" - and I'm quoting that word because he spoke to Stephen A. Smith, who hardly counts as a journalist - that he feels "betrayed" by Phil Jackson.
Anthony apparently expected Jackson to make some moves this offseason to contend for the championship. In other words, if we didn't know it before, we can now confirm that Anthony is a complete moron.
What the hell did Anthony think Jackson was going to do, kidnap family members of NBA owners and hold them hostage until those teams gave the Knicks their good players? New York is a wasteland right now, and Anthony's albatross of a contract - as well as the lacking appeal to play with him - is holding the team back. Of course, Anthony didn't have to be in this position. He could've taken slightly less money and played for the Bulls, and who knows? Maybe he would've gone to the NBA Finals this year with that team. Instead, he foolishly chased the money, a mistake that so many athletes make. Anthony is still owed $101.6 million, but he's paying the price for his poor decision-making.
Kristaps Porzingis was the right pick. Sure, he won't be ready for 2-3 years, but the Knicks won't be ready to make a deep run in the playoffs until then. So, it makes sense for them to develop a player with such upside for that amount of time. In fact, it's the most logical selection they could have made.
How to Improve the NBA Draft:
I'm not going to continue ranting about how egotistical many NBA Draft prospects are nowadays because it's pointless. There's no way to fix it. If Twitter goes away, and people stop believing that what they have to say is the most important thing in the world, maybe we'd have a chance. But that's not happening. Perhaps I'll go on a crusade to buy up all the selfie sticks just so I can burn them, but that's a plan for another time.
Something else that needs to be fixed with the NBA Draft is the amount of foreign players in the second round. I know that sounds xenophobic, but it really is terrible. Every other pick in the second frame was some foreign player no one had ever heard of. ESPN assumed that the viewing audience was so bored that they forced Shannon Spake to interview some 13-year-old kid who discussed fashion. ESPN sunk to a new low at that point, and I suddenly found myself missing the shirtless, homeless rapper.
Here's my plan: I think the NBA Draft should move to three rounds. The first round is fair game. Anyone can be drafted there. If the Knicks want to pick Porzingis just to piss off Anthony, then God bless them. It's all good.
However, if teams pass on foreign players in the first round, those players should be ineligible for the second round. That should be reserved for college prospects, so that athletes who make a dumb decision to leave school early aren't completely screwed.
After the second frame, there should be an International Futures Round. This is when teams get to snag the international players who weren't chosen in Round 1.
It's a win-win, I think. Those tuning into the draft aren't completely bored in Round 2 because familiar prospects are being taken. More players are being drafted as a result, so they'd have a better chance to make NBA rosters. And I think it would be cool if teams had the option of trading International Futures selections in addition to second-round picks. Maybe they'd be more valuable to a team like the Spurs.
ESPN would also triumph. They'd have more air time to sell more ads, and they'd get to conduct all of the stupid interviews they want during the International Futures Round. And the best part is, us viewers could just turn the damn network off, given that we'd know what was coming.