Friday, June 25, 2004


I'm a little late with this, I realize that. But here it is, the 2004 edition of the Bill Simmons NBA Draft Diary.

7:35 -- Just realized that I'm writing a column about a telecast that involves Dick Vitale, Stu Scott, Tom Tolbert and Stephen A. Smith ... and all of them are off-limits.

For the 567th time, I miss TNT's coverage of the NBA Draft.

7:37 --The Magic are on the clock with the first pick. If they're smart, they take Emeka Okafor. If they're dumb, they take Howard. It's that simple.

7:39 -- They go with Howard. Of course they do. He's the third high schooler taken overall in the past four years, as well as the first top pick with braces since Pervis Ellison. Not a good sign. "Praise the Lord!" screams Dwight Howard Sr., who didn't realize that the Lord had Okafor going first in his mock draft.

7:42 -- I was just typing feverishly . . . I swear somebody just said the word "marginable." More importantly, do you realize that the Clippers traded out of the No. 2 spot when there was a future All-Star center that could have been sitting there, just to pick up a second-rounder and dump a salary? Imagine being a Clippers fan? Having Elgin Baylor run your team must be like getting in the car with my mom at night, when she's careening off curbs and saying things like, "I can't believe how bad my eyes have gotten" and "We shouldn't have ordered that bottle of wine." Just constant fear.

7:45 -- Charlotte can't take Okafor fast enough. Seriously, I'm not sure they even started the clock. They borrowed Dwight Howard's car and raced to the podium at 160 mph.

Dwight Howard may be a future superstar in the NBA. But Emeka Okafor is a shotblocking machine. He's also a winner. The Charlotte fans will enjoy Okafor. I just hope Bernie Bickerstaff doesn't ruin him.

7:53 -- When it comes right down to it, there isn't a more secretly exciting phrase in sports than "The Clippers are on the clock." That's right up there with, "I'm here with Mike Tyson" and "Have you seen these pictures of Latrell Sprewell on his yacht?"

My reaction for the phrase "The Clippers are on the clock."?

"They will (screw) this up again."

8:06 -- With the Hawks on the clock, ESPN cuts to Atlanta and shows all seven Hawks season-ticket holders watching the draft on the Jumbotron. All right, I made that up. They end up taking Josh Childress and his mushroom cloud 'fro. I was already on the fence about Childress, but Tirico just compared him to the other great California players in recent years ... then named the O'Bannon brothers and Jason Kapono. Bust alert! Bust alert!

Josh Childress was an extra on the cast of "Fame", but has been reincarnated as a basketball player. Can we please get the Hawks PA crew to play Irene Cara's "Fame" for Childress when he makes a big shot? FAME!


Unfortunately, the Hawks fans won't remember Childress. Hell, there are only 12 Hawks fan in the Union right now. The other 27 fans who show up at Hawks games are just there for the postgame concert.

Too bad that we don't have a white guy in the NBA who resembles Paul McCray's Montgomery MacNeil. Although I may not be looking hard enough for that particular player.

8:11 -- Luol Deng goes seventh to the Suns, who are trading him to the Bulls right after the draft, but he has to wear a Suns hat for now. You figure it out. Another nice move by the Bulls: Two proven commodities now in Gordon and Deng. As far as GM's go, John Paxson has emerged as the Patrick Swayze to his brother's Don Swayze.


Can I just go on record and say that Patrick Swayze's 1987 hit "She's Like The Wind" is the most unexplainable event in music history? Thanks.

8:23 -- Andre Igoudala goes ninth to Philly, then hugs someone wearing an African tribal gown in his entourage. That almost made up for the lack of ridiculous suits tonight. By the way, between Andre Igoudala and Luol Deng, my Dad has a "Whatever happened to the days of Joe Smith and Dale Ellis?" look on his face right now.

See Michael Dickerson. See Miles Simon. See Loren Woods.


8:29 -- The Cavs take Luke Jackson, who didn't bother coming to the draft. Andy Katz reports that Jackson "just felt more comfortable watching it at home." Oh. He promises to show up for the season though. Meanwhile, we're anxiously awaiting ESPN's thumbnail sketch for each pick, especially the "Favorite class" and "Must Improve" categories. It's not every day that you can find out things like "Shaun Livingston likes trigonometry." Too bad Jackson didn't get a "Must Improve: Giving a crap."

James. Jackson. MONEY.

Cleveland only had one pick in this year's draft. But they had the best draft. Luke Jackson can play, folks.

The Cavaliers will be in the playoffs in 2004-2005, book this right now.

8:43 -- Thank God ... the Sonics just took Robert Swift, the high school center who looks like a cross between Fred Weis and Eric Montross. Of course, the Celtics loved him. Talk about dodging a bullet. Any time someone is avoiding workouts, all-star games, even interviews ... is this ever a good sign? Now he gets to be tutored by the likes of Jerome James, Vitaly Potapenko and Cal Booth. Can somebody have "downside"?

Robert Swift is the second coming of Jim McIllvaine.

I could have sworn I saw Swift in the 1995 film "Angus" as the dorky little redhead friend of Angus. Damn, he got tall. REALLY TALL.

"Angus" was good for one thing. Green Day's "J.A.R." (Jason Andrew Relva)

8:46 -- Here's a doozy: Portland takes Sebastian Telfair and his 100-person entourage at No. 13. Unbelievable. Horrendous pick. I'm speechless. ESPN smartly cuts to Jameer Nelson, a mortal lock for the Jumaine Jones Memorial "Last Guy Left In The Green Room" Award.


8:57 -- Boston takes ... high schooler Al Jefferson. Good pick. Other than Kirk Snyder, he was the best guy on the board, and we didn't need Snyder. Dad and I exchange nods of approval. "I'm surprised he lasted this long" says Bilas, adding that he's "relentless" and has "upside." I think we're about two years away from somebody creating an NBA Draft Cliché Karaoke Machine.

I thought Al Jefferson was going to be a Sonic. But they instead drafted the dorky redhead kid from "Angus". Big shock.

Jefferson had signed a letter of intent to play at Arkansas. Some Razorbacks fans despise him for entering the NBA instead of playing in Fayetteville. Deal with it, Hog fans.

The kid has the right to do what he wants to do. Hell, I wouldn't turn down first round money. It's not like Arkansas is going to the Final Four in 2005 anyway.

Stu: "Your nickname is J-Smoove ... would you like to smoothly toss it back to Mike now?"

Josh Smith (monotone, deer in the headlights): "Hey Mike, back to you."

(That was the TiVo moment of the night. Hands down.)

Yes, as good as this moment was, it wouldn't rank in TNT's Top 10 Draft Moments. Not even close.

9:11 -- Yet another classic moment: Vitale was zoning out, not realizing he was on camera until somebody alerted him, so he jolted upright and transformed into his "Dickie V." persona in about 0.0000003 seconds. That was amazing. Somebody must have accidentally unplugged him.

Mike Tirico basically told Dick Vitale to STFU. I wish ESPN would tell Tirico to do that, permanently.

Vitale was harping on the fact that this was a "devolopmental draft". Tirico, after every Vitale session, kept reminding us that we have plenty of time to talk about college basketball. Tirico has no business hosting an event like the NBA Draft. Again, TNT SHOULD BE COVERING THE NBA DRAFT!!!

9:28 -- Denver tabs Jameer Nelson as the crowd explodes. They already have Andre Miller and Earl Boykins, so he's obviously getting traded. Of course, four full minutes pass before someone (David Aldridge) mentions this possibility on the show. That prompts Jacko to say, "I think every draft, no matter what the sport, should have Mel Kiper Jr. in it." Me, too.

I'm not a Mel Kiper, Jr. fan, but he would have made ESPN's coverage better than it was. Hell, he wouldn't have to try very hard. If it meant that he would replace Stephen A. Smith, then by all means make this happen for future years.

9:43 -- You know, if the Celtics don't take Delonte West with one of these next two picks, I'm driving to the FleetCenter with a bomb strapped to my chest. Just wanted to get that heard before the jury.

9:46 -- Yes! Boston takes Delonte West! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Something good happened! He's good! I know he's good! I watched him all year! He's a more unselfish version of Cuttino Mobley! I have an opinion! Woo-hoo! I have an opinion!

Hey Bill, go caress your two Super Bowl t-shirts. I don't want to hear it.

This is the moment of the post where I remind everybody that my teams have never won. (The Blazers won the title in 1977, but I was not born yet.)

9:58 -- Sacramento takes Kevin Martin at No. 26. "Never heard of this guy," dad hisses. He's tired and grumpy.

I've heard of Martin. He scored 33 points in Western Carolina's 62-59 overtime victory at Arkansas last December. He's going to be in the league for awhile, I guarantee it.
He could be the Derek Fisher of this draft.

Go Catamounts!

Final reflections? Just some quickies. We heard the word "wingspan" more times than "upside" (7 to 6). We heard four new made-up draft terms: "ball-friendly," "logician," "explosion ability" and "blowbyablity." There were nearly as many high schoolers (8) and foreigners (9) taken as college players (12). Only three teams blatantly screwed up: The Clippers, Raptors and Blazers. Only one team dramatically improved (the Bulls). The Bobcats launched their franchise. My favorite sleeper actually ended up on the Celtics, which never happens. Best of all, I made up for last summer with my dad, even if it nearly bankrupted me in the process.

Best pick: Cleveland picking Luke Jackson at #10
Worst pick: Seattle picking Robert Swift at #12
Who will be better, Howard or Okafor?: Okafor

Simmons is back.

Thank God.

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