Undrafted, But Not Forgotten
SLAMonline hangs out with Scott Machado on Draft night.
Around the 40th pick, everyone in the room begins to grab onto the same hope: The 46th pick in the Draft, which belongs to Machado’s hometown New York Knicks, one of the 18 teams that he worked out for, is fast approaching. Thus far, the night has been disappointing, with many of the teams that Machado had worked out for passing on him. But if the Knicks take him, if he could stay in New York City, the place where he grew up and learned to play the game he loves, the night would be a success. For the entire Machado family, Scott playing for the Knicks would be a dream come true.
The Utah Jazz select Tennessee Tech guard Kevin Murphy with the 45th pick, and finally, the Knicks are up. The room is now silent. The moment feels right. If this were movie, Machado would hear his name called right now. ESPN now flashes to Adam Silver walking to the podium to announce the Knicks’ selection.
“With the 48th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the New York Knicks select Kostas…”
“Dammit” yells Vickers before Silver can even finish trying to pronounce the name of the newest Knick. Others are upset as well. Any confidence that those in the room previously had is now wavering. Everyone is looking at Machado, who’s now hunched over in his chair, his head looking straight down into the screen of his phone. He looks defeated. Vickers comes over and puts a hand on his shoulder.
“Are you OK?” he asks.
At this point, the picks are flying off the board. As Dallas selects Marquette’s Darius Johnson-Odom with the 55th pick of the Draft, Machado receives a phone call. He’s now shaking his head. The call ends, and Machado calls across to his father. The two are speaking in Portuguese, but I am able to make out one of the words that leaves Scott’s mouth.
Luiz walks over to his son.
“I don’t feel like talking right now,” Scott says, as Vickers, just a few feet away, is explaining to Machado’s mother why it’s actually better to be able to choose your team and situation as an undrafted rookie, as opposed to being a second-round pick with a non-guaranteed contract.
As the Lakers make Gonzaga center Robert Sacre the 60th, and final pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Machado leaves the room. He’s standing alone in a small hallway right off the restaurant. He’s not crying, but the sadness and disappointment is visible in his face. A few seconds later, Vickers joins him. I can only hear bits and pieces of what he’s saying.
“You’ve proved people wrong before… at Saint Mary’s [High School], at Saint Benedicts [Prep School]… at Iona… You’re always proving people wrong… Jeremy Lin…”
Luiz and Solenir come over to embrace their son, who, for the first time all night, looks like a 22-year-old kid.
“He’s really disappointed,” says Vickers as he gives the family a few minutes alone. “But he’s a fighter. Every time people have doubted, he’s been able to overcome it. He’ll overcome this.”
After a few minutes, Machado returns. He steps to the middle of the room and asks for quiet.
“I want to thank everybody for coming out and celebrating this accomplishment with me,” he says. “I know I’m not the only one that’s hurt, I know everybody else he is hurt, too, but it’s only a step. My agent’s been talking to me, and he’s told me that there are already five teams that have reached out to him and want me to play for them in the summer league, the Rockets, the Jazz, the Knicks. There’s a lot going on right now…”
Machado pauses. His voice starts to crack as a few tears finally trickle down his cheek. The room breaks out in applause. Around a minute goes by before Machado continues.
“I know I didn’t get drafted, but I want to thank everybody for coming out. I love everybody here, and I want to make sure it doesn’t end here. I believe in a God that does good things and wants to bring me happiness, and he forgot me today, but he’s not going to stop here, and I’m not going to stop here.”
A few more tears drip down Machado’s cheek. He asks everyone to bow their heads, and he recites a prayer, which is barely audible over his broken voice. He then hugs and thanks every person in the room.
The cake is cut.
The next day, Machado is not the only one surprised that he wasn’t selected.
“I thought he was good enough to get drafted,” says ESPN’s Jay Bilas in a phone interview. “He’s a true point guard. He’s a great passer, a good setup guy, and I think he can play in the open floor game. And I really like his demeanor. I’m not saying he’s going to be an All-Star, but I think he’s got the ability to play in the League.”
Apparently, the Houston Rockets agree. A few days later, Machado accepts their summer league invitation.
“I just feel like it’s the best fit for me,” he says. “And I figure even if it doesn’t work out with the Rockets, I’ll be able to play and show everyone else my game and what I’m about.”
Machado says that two teams wanted to take him toward the end of the Draft, but that they also wanted to send him to play oversees. Machado and his agent agreed that he’d be better off going undrafted and playing in the summer league for a team of his choice.
“Not being drafted really hurt,” says Machado. “But now I feel like this is the best opportunity for me.”
A week later, the Rockets reportedly miss out on free-agent point Jeremy Lin and trade last year’s starting point guard Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors. If an opportunity was what Machado was looking for, he appears to have chosen the right place.