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Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 12:20 pm  |  66 responses

How the New Orleans Hornets Won the NBA Draft Lottery


Despite the inevitable and annual round of “CONSPIRACY!” charges from the lunatic fringe (and, to be fair, NBA players themselves), the Draft Lottery is a legitimately random affair. SI.com was in the room last night when the lottery balls were drawn, and describes in great detail how the Hornets came out as big (if surprising) winners: “The balls are drawn from one of those air-powered lottery machines more than an hour before the television broadcast of the lottery, in a room open only to officials from the 14 lottery teams (one from each) and a few media members. Everyone in the room must surrender mobile devices and slip them in yellow packing envelopes, and no one is allowed to leave until ESPN’s telecast is over. [...] Each lottery team is assigned a batch of four-number sequences, of which there are 1,001 in total, all involving various combinations of the numbers ’1′ through ’14.’ The league assigns the sequences chronologically, so that the Bobcats, the team with the best odds of winning the lottery, got the first 250 sequences — all containing the number ’1.’ The Charlotte sequences started with ’1-2-3-4′ and went up to ’1-7-12-14.’ Though the Wizards, the team with the second-best odds, also had some sequences containing a ’1,’ the odds were very high that if a ’1′ came up at all among the four ping-pong balls on Wednesday night, the No. 1 pick would belong to the Bobcats. The machine whirred the balls around for the required 20 seconds and spit out the first number — a ’6.’ Ten more seconds of scrambling passed before a ’4′ emerged. Hornets general manager Dell Demps scanned a worksheet of his team’s sequences and noticed that at least a few were in play after the ’6-4′ drawing. New Orleans had the fourth-best odds of winning the top pick — a 13.7 percent long shot — meaning many of its sequences contained a ’4.’ A lower number, Demps knew, would shift the pick elsewhere. After the mandatory 10-second pause for the remaining 12 balls to bounce around inside the machine, a league official drew out the next ball — a ’9.’ Demps was in business. So was Jeffrey Cohen, vice chairman of the Cavaliers. If the final ball was marked with a ’3,’ the Cavaliers would win the lottery for the second straight season. A ’7,’ Demps knew, would give the Hornets the top spot. Ten more seconds passed, and a man with his back to the machine raised his hand, indicating that the official in charge of the machine should have it suck up the last ball. ‘I was just thinking, ‘Come on, seven! Come on, seven!’ Demps said after the drawing. The ball surfaced: a ’7,’ only the way it came out, it initially looked like a ’1.’ Demps slumped in his chair for a second. ‘I couldn’t tell,’ he said. He then looked more closely and was sure it was a ’7.’ He was getting excited. ‘But then I just told myself I had to wait for them to announce it.’ That came a few seconds later: The Hornets had won the No. 1 pick. Demps responded with a fist pump underneath the table.”

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  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Why not just film the damn thing? Cause this disproves nothing.

  • Rik Smits Mullet

    The have to do it on the spot. pick out the ball and say hornets win. No sleight of hand tricks. just plain an simple show the ball.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I do enjoy how the years that don’t have a franchise player, 2005 & 2006, go to irrelevant teams. 2012 to Stern’s boys. 2011 to the team that is trying to save it image post Gilbert Arenas debacle, 2010 to the team that lost LeBron. 2009 … I know that some conspiracy theory type sh*t, but it’s pretty damn convenient how it works out for the league in certain seasons.

  • http://slamonline.com Jones

    Question: How the New Orleans Hornets Won the NBA Draft Lottery

    Answer: Stern

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    * 2009 to Clippers the leagues 3rd most profitable franchise, 2008 hometown boy to Chicago to make them relevant again, 2007 1 & 2 go to the pacific northwest despite the odds being lower than 6% that would happen, 2004 Orlando gets the second coming of Shaq (or close to it), 2003 Cleveland gets hometown savior.
    .
    (sorry idk how all that got deleted)

  • Well DAMN

    I don’t like David Stern

  • http://www.nba.com Shadojoker

    Rigged is rigged…there is no way around it..Cosign nbk

  • thecomputerdude

    C O N Spiracy

  • Saku 39

    I’ll play along and trust the lottery is legit but I still don’t know why this isn’t shown live. I think the only reason I’ve heard is “it’s not good TV.”

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Honestly, the NBA seems closer to a performance than a competition sometimes.

  • http://www.fullc0urtpress.com KHOLIDAY05

    The NBA is starting to look a lot like the WWE.

  • alphabeta

    A $600 million Powerball draw is shown with all the balls picked on the spot live for everyone, but the NBA draft ping pong balls picking is done behind closed doors. Makes perfect sense to me….

  • Fresh Boirdee

    Didn’t they used to show this live during halftime, or was it just the announcement?

  • alphabeta

    Lebron leaves…..Cavs get 1st pick
    Abe Polin dies w/ gun fiasco from Arenas…….Wiz get 1st pick
    NBA owned Hornets have a dying franchise and get new owner……..NO gets 1st pick

    Yeah, this is totally random….don’t you think.

  • http://slamonline.com TBRK

    what you think im STUUPIDDDD???? maaaaaaaaan

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    nbk, why stop there? I can give so much evidence for NBA conspiracy theories.
    1. The Hornets sold $50mil above market value from the NBA to a private owner. The Hornets then received the 2014 All Star Game and the #1 pick.
    2. 2011 Draft, Cavaliers have gone without LeBron and the league fanbase is upset with how it happened. What better way to appease them than giving them another #1 pick?
    3. 2010 Draft, top PG Wall goes to the Wizards, a team trying to scrub the image of Arenas. What better way than finding a star young player who happens to play the same position?
    4. 2009 Draft, the Clippers are a money machine despite horrible records. LA values flash and flair and the team is gifted the best in-game dunker since Vince Carter.
    5. 2008 Draft, the Bulls have always been the darlings of the NBA fans because of Jordan, but the recent struggles disappoint fans. Derrick Rose is a hometown hero and Chicago wins the lottery for him, despite having only a 1.7% chance.
    6. 1985 Draft, Patrick Ewing goes to the Knicks and video emerges that offers clear evidence of a fixed lottery. YouTube it and you’ll see it.
    7. 2005 Playoffs, Jeff Van Gundy is fined a record $100,000 for asserting that refs were instructed to call more fouls on Yao Ming at the behest of Mark Cuban.
    8. 2009 Playoffs, Rajon Rondo commits two separate fouls on Chicago Bulls players which, post facto, have been determined to be suspend-able offenses. He received a personal foul and flagrant 1 respectively despite Rondo’s admittance he was not making plays at the ball in either instance.
    9. 2002 Playoffs, Kings vs. Lakers. This is absolutely true for me. You guys know the story for sure, the refs were blatantly told to ensure the series went to 7 games, forcing the Kings to lose Game 6. Google search it, there are a lot of good videos out there showing it.
    10. 2006 NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade shoots a record amount of free throws, including 25 in the decisive Game 6, equaling the total shot by the entire team. Additionally, Mavericks were assessed a timeout despite no timeout call at all. Cuban raised angry suspicions after the game and was fined a massive $250,000.
    In short, the NBA is ridiculously slanted to serve whatever Stern wants. As a fan collective, the demand of transparency might impact something. I think we all agree honesty, even if revealed to be rigged, is better than the lies and deception we are force-fed today.

  • http://slamonline.com TBRK

    yall are going way to far right now. Cav’s got the #1 pick cause they dead sucked that year, and the Wiz getting the #1 when most were just about certain the Nets were gonna get it. And the point still remains that every other year the drawing was visible to the public!
    .
    You mean to tell me all media members were asked to put away cameras and mobile devices to go back stage and watch some ping pong balls…and then were asked to stay until the broadcast had ended???? IM AN ADULT!!!! maaaaaaaaaaaaan.

  • http://slamonline.com TBRK

    lol @Caboose

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    TBRK would have taken the blue pill.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    if you can go to a magic show and get fooled by a magician who you know is trying to fool you, why in the world wouldn’t you believe a billion dollar business doesn’t possess the ability to fool 20 people in a secret meeting?

  • http://dskfjlc.com Jukai

    Y’all wear tinfoil hats when you go to bed?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    On weekends.

  • http://slamonline.com dma

    and why go through this crazy process of drawing a million balls and combinations? why not make it easier to understand. worst team gets 14 balls, next to worst gets 13, etc… then air it LIVE. weigh every single ball too to make sure they are all the same. the whole thing would take 20 minutes, still giving plenty of time to hear the espn crew predict who’s going to win

  • BBaller

    Stern on how and why the Hornets won the 1st pick” It is what it is”

  • lakernation

    Trust me Stern don’t give two sh** about the media’s attempt to draw up conspiracy theories. HE’S ON TOP OF ERRTHANG THAT BELONGS NBA! Roger Goodell and Stern are distant brothers.

  • vmcb

    Do people really think this thing is rigged? NOH had a 10% and are a pretty “irrelevant” team. The Bobcats, who had a 25% chance of winning, are just as irrelevant. Charlotte had a 75% chance of losing the lottery, which is exactly what they did. The odds were against them. Not to mention the fact that the NBA is a billion dollar business. Why would Stern risk breaking federal laws, pissing off 29 other owners and discrediting the entire league just to create a narrative? Not to mention the fact that two lawyers witness the draft lottery and would risk legal penalties and discrediting their firms if the event was proven to be rigged. Remember, guys. This is a league that allows countless trade rumours to get leaked to the public, yet all of a sudden thousands of employees are tight-lipped regarding the biggest secret the NBA could ever keep? You guys claiming “rigged” are just salty ’cause your teams didn’t win the draft. Keep crying.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    You know the only people who have to know if it is or isn’t rigged is Stern right? He could pay for magnetic paint (yes, there is such a thing) without disclosing it’s purpose. Just has whoever readies the ping pong balls paint them, and vuwala a fix without anyone knowing. Not saying I think that’s what happened, but just like any trick, only 1 person has to know about it for it too work. Again, not saying I believe the draft lottery is rigged. But it is often convenient. The question is, do you believe in constant coincidence?

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Just go and watch video of the 1985 Draft Lottery. That’s what shades everything lottery related and how “convenient” every draft has been lately.

  • JMagicFan

    Any predictions of who is going to win the lottery next year?

  • http://hoopspeak.com/2012/05/enough-about-lebron-and-his-fouls/ nbk

    The Magic. But as last summer shows big things can change.

  • LaKid

    Next years lottery winner is the Brooklyn Nets, because it will be convenient. Too many coincidences in the draft lottery for me nowadays, as soon as NOH didn’t come up as 4th I knew they had it won. Unreal.

  • vmcb

    NBK, off the top of my head, I can think of conspiracy theories attached to the Nets, Hornets or Bobcats winning. This sort of rhetoric was almost unavoidable.

  • WEASAL

    t quote metta’s best rap ever “David Stern, Damn David stern, Gotta teach you ‘Bout the getto there’s some things you should learn”

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/05/how-the-new-orleans-hornets-won-the-nba-draft-lottery/ thePhoenix

    The thing is though, you could probably come up with a nice “rigged lottery” narrative no matter who wins it. Imagination is a wonderful thing! …the Shaq leaving Orlando then getting Dwight 9 years later is a bit far fetched don’t you think?

  • hero

    ei caboose, you forgot how the nba gave game 7 of the 2010 finals to an la team

  • http://Somethingsomething. Ugh

    1) So if the NBA draft is so rigged why do the Lakers and the Knicks, the #1 and #2 most profitable franchises, the former being the one Stern says he’d love to play themselves in the NBA Finals, almost never so much as participate in the draft, let alone win it?
    2) The draft is convoluted to ensure chances, not ease of understanding. If you don’t understand how the system detailed here IS DESIGNED TO REDUCE THE PROFITABILITY OF TANKING you should go read up on probability theory, not conspiracy theory.
    3) This entire event is done by an accounting firm, not the NBA. Stern is not buying f%$&ing magnetic paint and detailing the balls himself the days leading up to the draft. A bunch of accountants do it all, including calculating the probabilities.
    4) Some of you guys need your heads read. Seriously.

  • Trilla

    The NBA should do a 14 team tournament consisting of the teams that made the lottery, winner gets the #1 pick.

  • hero

    all nba fans should know by now, that the nba is a business first and a sport second. it has practically become an entertainment more than a competitive sport. it started after jordan left the bulls after his sixth championship. the nba had to promote the league all over again without jordan, thus ensuring good ratings and good marketing by favoring big major market teams, with superstars. or teams with a superstar.

  • Trilla

    @Ugh just look at the NBA’s recent history, read Caboose’s post. All those things are pretty suspect and suspicious. I mean who’s to say Stern and the boardroom guys dont plan EVERYTHING out? Im talking everything, from the draft winners to who gets to play in the NBA finals. But then again maybe we are taking this too far, but then also maybe we arent. I dont even know whats the truth anymore. I believe the NBA made Lebron leave Cleveland and the Grizzlies give up Pau Gasol.

  • Trilla

    I’m still mad how the Kings didnt get to the Finals in 2002, there’s no doubt they would’ve win it all. That game was completely fixed, the NBA almost made it seem like they were purposely trying to make it seem obvious.

  • hero

    @trilla
    a former referee, a convicted referee, already disclosed all thats happening.

  • hero

    @trilla
    they wouldnt want a kings vs nets finals.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/05/how-the-new-orleans-hornets-won-the-nba-draft-lottery/ thePhoenix

    With Chicago getting the #1 pick as well, people seem to forget that he wasn’t even the consensus at the time. A lot of people had Beasley going #1 …so why didn’t they just give the #1 pick to a team that already had a good point guard assuring that Rose fell to #2 which they could have given to Bulls and thus still rigging the Chi-town homegrown star story but making it less obvious? … Why? B/C this rigging ish is ridiculous!

  • ali

    Why don’t they show the pingpong balls on tv so that we wouldnt need to worry about if it was rigged or not

  • neaorin

    Conspiracy theorists are a funny bunch.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    See, the thing is, there’s an exceptionally easy fix to the lottery. Just televise it, or at least put cameras in there. That’s not difficult. Neither is buying out a third party agency to do what the league wants. For all we know, there aren’t any ping pong balls at all.

  • http://Somethingsomething. Ugh

    @ali – It takes hours and you wouldn’t watch it. Most NBA fans don’t even watch whole games let alone something as mind-numbing as the draft lottery. What that means is nobody would watch it, which means nobody would broadcast it. It probably is filmed.
    @Caboose: There’s more transparency in the NBA draft lottery than there is in a US federal election. Do you bother arguing the point that all those ballot papers simply go to landfill when your party doesn’t win?

  • haslem

    why did stern decide the blazers deserved greg oden? or wait maybe stern decided to intentionally plant a man child with a fragile body in AAU leagues drawing up buzz so he would get drafted ahead of Durant, the franchise player he needed to erase the stink of the Sonics/Thunder controversy? I get it now.

  • haslem

    So the Spurs deserved Duncan in Stern’s eyes because of their one bad season when David Robinson was injured, when the Celtics, the NBA’s proudest franchise sucked for close to a decade?

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Ugh, it’s not filmed. Read the article, all technology is removed. Are US elections “convenient” though? I’m not 100% on the fact that the entire NBA is rigged (it’s not), but that the “best thing” in any draft tends to happen.

  • haslem

    And if Stern is such a master puppeteer why did he gift wrap an immature, unskilled 7 footer with tiny hands to his golden boy, MJ with the Wizards pick? Or wait maybe it was a sly double cross and Stern was actually worried Jordan with his popularity would overtake him as commissioner so he hatched a plan to make him the laughingstock of manager related decisions for a decade running now.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Haslem, not everything is rigged, I won’t argue that. I’m just saying that if a given Draft has something that is “best” for the NBA as a whole, it happens.

  • http://Somethingsomething. Ugh

    @hero – 1) No he didn’t. He indicated that certain referees may have shaved points, in a handful of specific games, for their own profit. His testimony wasn’t taken seriously.
    2) Who’s “they”? The NBA? “They” are 30 owner groups, which adds up to hundreds of people. Considering only ten teams have won a ring in the last thirty years the VAST majority of “they” WOULD want a Kings-Nets finals series over Lakers-Nets because it would show that small market teams can get there!
    @trilla – Why would the NBA conspire to move LeBron away from Cleveland? A much better idea for concentrated profit is to just contract all those teams that nobody wants to play in and have nothing but ten or fifteen Heat, Celtics and Lakers calibre rosters.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Ugh, did you even read his testimony? He pointed directly (through indirect means) to Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Some things are twisted, but not everything. Nobody should be arguing that the whole league is just a movie playing out. It’s a natural progression with the hand of Stern turning the steering wheel on occasion to ensure the L stays on the most profitable path. Fair?

  • http://Somethingsomething. Ugh

    @Caboose: FACEPALM. “everyone must surrender mobile devices” doesn’t equal “it is not filmed”. It’s not so they can’t film it – it’s so they can’t leak the results ahead of time. Seriously.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Ugh, it’s not filmed. Period. End of story. Ok? The L has said that.

  • haslem

    @Caboose: so which NBA draft narratives do you think have been manipulated by Stern and which haven’t? In 2009 why did Stern decide the Clippers would make for the best story when Griffin grew up and played college basketball in OKC? With their history of injuries, the Clipper ‘curse’ and the worst owner in sports, it seems that if anything Stern would try to ensure Blake didn’t go to the Clippers. It just seems that in hindsight you’re saying it was manipulated to make an LA franchise relevant, but were you saying this in 2009? And how come Stern waited 30 years to decide the Clippers deserved a shot?

  • haslem

    I’ve read comments saying Stern gift wrapped the ‘second coming of Shaq’ for the Magic in 2004. Why not his hometown team the Hawks, or why not Chicago trying to stay relevant after the Jordan years? What makes the Magic getting that pick evidence of a conspiracy?

  • http://Somethingsomething. Ugh

    I’ll spell it out for you. It’s a lottery. The participants aren’t ticket buying citizens from a particular state, but are the teams from the NBA. The legislation that covers cash-winning lotteries also cover non-cash lotteries – which means the event has to be witnessed by the relevant authorities *and recorded*. Considering state lotteries that hand out winnings of only tens of thousands of dollars have multiple witnesses and are filmed for transparency I think it’s safe to assume the winner of the NBA draft lottery, which has value in the millions in revenue, minimum, would have at least that amount of security and transparency, not to mention attention from anti-corruption and gaming industry officials, wouldn’t you say? The draft isn’t televised because nobody would watch it. There are no serious claims of corruption against the NBA draft from anyone other than miserable Kings fans. People who own casinos have much more to lose if the draft is rigged than people who sit in the 45th row at a Pacers game yet they aren’t challenging the validity of the results. Senators and DAs who want easy popularity aren’t taking on the corruption obvious in the NBA office, are they? (And don’t come at me that the NBA is too valuable – it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the alcohol or drug industries revenue.)
    The theories aren’t rational and they aren’t informed. What’s way more relevant to the fact your team sucks is that there are bad business people running them. It doesn’t take good acumen to own an NBA team, just cash, and you can find rich idiots in every state capitol in the US. That’s why your team sucks and somebody else’s team doesn’t. Get a helmet.

  • haslem

    Hah thank you I didn’t need spelling out I agree with you. I was just trying to tease out a defense of these ‘theories’ because anything longer than 3 sentences would demonstrate how silly they are. Appreciate your post though. As others have said, you could come up with a ‘theory’ for any lottery team getting the top pick this year.

  • everything
  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/05/how-the-new-orleans-hornets-won-the-nba-draft-lottery/ thePhoenix

    @ Ugh. I have two words for you. AMEN, brother.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Yall do realize that the Bobcats are picking second right? So the team with the best chance of picking first is picking second and the team with third best chance of picking first is picking first.
    That is only suspicious because of the narratives around the teams, not because of the math. Lol.

  • Saku 39

    @Ugh. The article says the drawing took three minutes, not hours. I think people would watch.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Sigh, I’m not going to argue with someone who is unwilling to examine other points of view and still has his facts wrong. Haslem, if I had to pick concrete examples of manipulation, I’d say 2012 Draft, 2008 Draft, 2003 Draft, 1985 Draft, 2002 WCF, 2006 Finals. And Ugh, you can read press releases from the NBA, there aren’t cameras in the lottery room. Why is that such a difficult concept? You’re fast becoming a condescending, pretentious, rush-to-judgment, over-assuming blowhard. Which I understand if you’re trying to make a name for yourself on this site, but tone it down and look at all points of view.

  • hero

    once again caboose, you left game 7 2010 finals.

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