I can't say I'm really outraged about Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey being overlooked in this year's NBA Draft. We all should know by now that pro drafts in any sport aren't a strict meritocracy. However, that doesn't help my feelings of disappointment after sitting through all five hours of the strangely off-kilter coverage on ESPN.
I had originally intended this article to culminate with the selections of Messers Gansey and Pittsnogle, but that obviously didn't happen. Still, there were enough random observations and strange occurrences on Wednesday night to fill up a column, so here goes:
I'm not really expecting to see the Mountaineer duo taken in the first round, but I tune in at 7:30 anyway to catch the flavor of it all. And I'm immediately punished by having to relive an unpleasant memory.
Early on, there are enough Texas highlights to give me bad flashbacks to the Sweet 16 contest in Atlanta. Strangely enough, through the entire draft, no highlights are shown that include games against West Virginia. This, despite the fact that West Virginia faced at least 18 of the 60 total players taken in the draft this year. A bad omen, but one that I failed to consider until the picks wound their way through the final ten.
ESPN made a good move by keeping Stephen A. Smith and Dick Vitale in separate cities. Had they been in the same room, the collision of egos would have produced a thermonuclear explosion that could have actually ruffled Dan Patrick's hair.
Speaking of Patrick, he seemed really awkward and ill at ease. NBA commissioner David Stern clearly ruffled him by addressing him from the podium regarding the constant bashing from his analysts, and his lame "I've always liked Paul Tagliabue better" was a rejoinder on the level of George Costanza's "The jerk store called, they're running out of you" line. Patrick also set a new record for use of the work "paperwork" which was this year's "upside".
Good feelings abounded when J.J. Redick was not taken by Utah. I thought the Jazz were a good fit for Mike Gansey, and he didn't need to be fighting Redick for a spot. Then -- uh-oh -- Arkansas' Ron Brewer gets snapped up by the Jazz. So much for good karma.
Adam Morrison's EA Sports commercial spots, which included discussions about him crying after losing his final game, and a dissertation on his wispy mustache, were funny and spot on. I'm rooting for him even more after watching these.
The lights continue to highlight Patrick's nip and tuck work, which should be showing up on BadPlasticSurgery.com any day now.
The Knicks make a howlingly bad draft pick by taking someone not named Steve Spurrier from South Carolina in the first round. The gallery gods howl with derision. Spike Lee, who became irrelevant at least five years ago, tries to play it off as a "sleeper pick". I'm guessing he's drinking straight from the Isiah Thomas Kool-Aid pitcher. Which leads to another thought – which one is officially lamer, Spike Lee or the recycled marquee/light board that ESPN ripped off from TNT's draft coverage?
When the 25th pick of the first round rolls around, Jay Bilas has Mike Gansey as the #2 best player available left on the board. While Gansey will move up to claim the top spot, he will never make it off this list, despite having 35 more chances to do so.
NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik takes over the selection announcements from Stern for the second round, he immediately upstages Stern by saying "two thousand six" instead of the commish's favored "two thousand AND six". English teachers everywhere applaud.
As the second round unfolds, it becomes apparent that the foreign rush is in full force, and that Pittsnogle and Gansey are in trouble. Just as in some rounds of the NBA draft, potential and workout measurables get more respect than on-court performance. It's like watching a train wreck – but I can't turn away, even as the clock creeps toward midnight. Still it's especially galling to see players like Miami's Guillermo Diaz, who couldn't hold Gansey's jock, get picked ahead of him. And what's up with Seattle, which appears bent on fielding a team of seven-footers that couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle? Can't anyone use a designated 6-11 shooter?
My cynicism rises as the final few picks come across without a mention of the Gold and Blue. Israel has two players selected – apparently the U.S. State Department has run out of purchasing good will with fighter plane shipments and is now trying to reverse the trade imbalance there. Even England - England! has a player selected, although you can tell Bilas believes that he'll see an NBA court about the same time that we land a man on one of Jupiter's moons.
As the final few ticks pick away ( I swear Vladimir Putin was picked by the Sonics) the consolation thoughts begin to enter. The ‘It's better to be passed over than picked late, because then you can select the best situation for yourself in free agency' thread runs through my head, but the nagging feeling remains that it's much tougher to follow the free agent path to the NBA than it is to the NFL.