“Your enthusiasm is dwindling.”
With a wry smile that couldn’t even begin to convey how much he was enjoying himself, David Stern baited an exhausted New York audience who had already witnessed more excitement in a NBA Draft than the 30 the Commissioner presided over before it. Year after year, a sterotypical New York crowd had booed Stern vociferously with every single pick, pointing more attention towards Stern than the selections he was announcing. And why not? Year after year, the picks were largely settled in the weeks and months beforehand. NBA drafts follow a formula more times than not, replicating mock drafts that have become more a science than good clean fun.
The 2013 NBA Draft couldn’t have been any less formulaic than if Walter White disassembled it himself. At 7:20pm, just 10 minutes before the event started, I turned to my friend Kevin and asked, “How do we still not know who the number one pick is going to be?” I scrolled through my phone, gloriously hooked up with the Barclays Center free premium wi-fi (thanks Mikhail!), trying to get an indication through Twitter one way or another. Nerlens Noel. Victor Oladipo. Alex Len. Ben McLemore. No one seemed to stand out more than another. Kevin, clad in his black Orlando Magic shirt and perhaps the last bastion of central Florida fandom in NYC, giddily looked at me and announced, “If we get Oladipo, I’m going to LOSE it!”
Looking around, everyone in a surprisingly packed crowd was rolling through their phones, hoping to find the latest #Wojbomb before everyone else. No such luck. My search was interrupted by a surround sound booming chorus of “BOOOOS” hailing down on an entering Commissioner, who made a few opening remarks that I can’t begin to recap–because I couldn’t hear them. The crowd was booing that loudly.
Compared to last year, there seemed to be a difference. Fresh off the lockout, The Veto and LeBron James and the Miami Heat winning their first title, there was a distinct taste of actual hatred in the air. The crowd at the Prudential Center in 2012 voiced their displeasure with the Commish, booing him with as much vigor for the 1st pick as the 30th. People were mad at a season nearly cancelled and for some of us, the sense that Stern had acted like Vince McMahon in squashing a league-changing trade.
Last night, the anger from last June had dissipated, with the jeers taking on a tone clearly reverential in nature. There was almost a sense of nostalgia knowing that this was the last time we were going to be able to boo him, and we owed it to the man to show him as much disrespectful respect as humanly possible.
(Read the rest over at Silver Screen & Roll!)