The Greatest Day of the Year

The Greatest Day of the Year
May 07, 2004, 01:00 am
In the life of every NBA draft junkie there was a turning point; a time when he or she went from a casual NBA fan to an obsessive, neurotic, full-on draft nerd. What the hell happened to us? Since when was the most exciting day in the NBA season some random Wednesday night in late June? How can that be? It's just a draft, right? Hey, I'll take the big tall guy, and, I'll take the little short dude who dribbles real nice. Well, maybe for some people, it's just a draft, but for us draft junkies, the NBA Draft is like, waitit's better than Christmas. On Christmas, I have to spend most of the day riding around in a car, visiting relatives. What kind of holiday is that? The NBA Draft is a man's holiday. Could it be? Is the NBA Draft the greatest day of the year? For me, the only day that even comes close is my fantasy football league's annual Labor Day weekend draft spectacular. That's right, the only thing that can come close to the NBA Draft is another draft. What about the NFL Draft? you ask. Come on. Watching the NFL draft is like watching paint dry. As far as I'm concerned, it's official: the single greatest day of the entire year is the day of the NBA Draft.

So when did I go from casual fan to NBA Draft junkie? The year was 1987 and the place was my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Just in case you are unaware, North Carolina is ACC country. We love ACC hoops like Tyrone Biggums loves crack. In fact, schools here actually stop teaching on ACC Tournament Friday in order to watch the action. I'm serious and Features Director Daniel Shar, a fellow North Carolinian, can attest to this. In my day, they would wheel in the old black and white TVs at lunchtime and we would spend the rest of the day watching hoops. How cool is that?

In 1987 the draft came on during the day. I was at home for the summer and nothing else was on so I reluctantly decided to watch the NBA Draft. Lucky for me there were some ACC players expected to be drafted early, such as Kenny Smith, Olden Polynice and Horace Grant. Due to their background, I was rather interested to see where they would go. David Robinson goes first. OK, I've heard of this dude. He's the guy going to the Navy. How nice. Armon Gilliam: nice haircut. Dennis Hopson: who? Reggie Williams: sounds familiar but so would Billy Williams. Scottie Pippen: hey he looks like a proboscis monkey. Kenny Smith: the Kings!?! Aw man, they suck. Olden Polynice: now this guy is gonna be a stud, locking down the paint like a police officer. Derrick McKey: no idea who he is, but he sure looks like a nice guy. Horace Grant: hey, that's cool, he gets to play with Michael Jordan. Man, I love Jordan but too bad the Bulls are terrible. He'll never win with those losers. Reggie Miller: Whoa! Check out those teeth. What's for dinner, a box of nails? Muggsy Bogues: WHAT! Are you kidding me? I love the ACC but Muggsy's a midget. What a horrible (in my best Bill Walton voice) pick. Joe Wolf: OK, that's it! Stop the draft! What the hell is going on here? Joe Wolf is awful and this is a Tarheels fan speaking. I know the mullet is nice and all but what are the Clippers thinking? I could make better draft choices than these guys.

And there it was, I was hooked. Like a little kid who sees his first R-rated movie, I was hooked and I owe it all to Joe Wolf and the Los Angeles Clippers. Thank you Joe Wolf and a million thanks to every NBA player's worst nightmare, the Clippers. Back me up Barkley.

The next year, 1988, I missed the draft because I was at don't laughgolf camp. I know, I know. I would never make that mistake again and I haven't missed a draft since. In 1989 I proclaimed the NBA Draft a holiday and I took off work to make sure I watched it. Sure my friends and family laughed at me. How dare they? The NBA is my religion and it would be sacrilegious to work on the most sacred day of the NBA season. Right? Forget the naysayers, I had future Hall of Famers Pervis Ellison and Danny Ferry to worry about; future scoring and rebounding champs like JR Reid, Stacey King, Randy White, George McCloud, and Tom Hammonds to worry about. OK, it's official: the 1989 draft is the worst draft ever. I think even Comic Book Guy would agree to that. You think a draft like that would derail my passion for the draft. No way! By 1990, I had followers. That June my NBA Draft junkie friends and I skipped work and planned to watch the draft together. Hey, has anybody seen my red Kool-Aid ‘cause I smell a cult brewing? I can just hear the chatter: Man, the Clippers finally got it right this year. Bo Kimble is going to be a star. How can the T-Wolves pass on Lionel Simmons? The L-Train is the truth. Man, I bet Willie Burton could score 50 if he wanted to. The dude wore a mask over his broken nose. A MASK!

The following year, 1991, I amazed myself by accurately predicting the first 14 picks as the draft unfolded. I made it all the way through future stiff Rich King, drafted by Seattle, before getting schooled by another future stiff, Anthony Avent. Unfortunately, I had no real witnesses. My girlfriend at the time didn't understand my holiday and refused to follow my specific rituals. So, like an idiot, I agreed to watch the draft at her house. Of course she was not impressed with my amazing feat and made me turn the channel somewhere around LaBradford Smith so we could go to the mall. I can't believe I'm actually admitting this; a girl ruined draft night. Which brings us to rule number one of Draft Club, NO GIRLS ALLOWED!

Through the years, we have witnessed brilliant picks, such as Dr. Alec Kessler, and Todd Day. We argued over the likes of Luther Wright versus AC Earl. We laughed at the lime green suits on display and cried at the horrible picks our teams made. Draft Night was our night. Some of my NBA Draft buddies have moved on to other lesser hobbies like raising children or starting a business. Others have denounced the NBA as nothing more than an evil plot to ruin college basketball. But I'm still here, as are many of you. For each draft junkie we lose, we must recruit another. The spaceship is gassed up. My jumpsuit and white Nike's are laid out and ready to go. So I say to all the draft junkies out there, embrace the NBA Draft, for it is the greatest day of the year. Get you buddies together. Get your excuses to miss work lined up. Tell your girlfriends or wives to go buy some shoes, or little fluorescent jelly purses, or whatever it is that they like to buy. June 24th is our holiday.

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