If I Ruled the NBA Draft Lottery ...
There are no neutral parties when it comes to the NBA Draft Lottery. Even if you root for a team without a top-14 pick, or if you root for no team at all, you'll be somewhere between delighted and discouraged with the results of Tuesday's lotto drawing. Luckily, for those of you supposed nonpartisans who can't quite figure out where you stand on the lottery, we have deduced which team you're rooting for, and which cosmic forces or celebrities you are allied with.
Forces of Good
It's tough to get a bead on pro sports karma. Between DUIs and charitable foundations, there's constant ebb and flow on the karmic scoreboard. But I think our fair New Jersey Nets have suffered enough. Just about everyone who remains on the roster actually tried hard during the 2009-10 season, with little to show for it. I say "just about everyone" -- Devin Harris did take some heat for lagging defensive effort. Good news, peaceniks! The prohibitive favorite as Pick No. 1 is John Wall, a point guard, meaning Harris would be duly punished (fairly or not) by exile to some PG-less team (like the ghastly Knicks) or worse, the bench. Jarvis Hayes kept his locker pretty clean, Devin, no worries.
For every angel there are two demons. Actually, the NBA seems to have more than that, given that the Clippers didn't win this "honor" in either of the previous two seasons. In 2008, when hating Clay Bennett was still politically viable, the Seattle Sonics won the hearts of the Malevolent Forces. Last year it went to the Warriors based on Don Nelson's sacrilege power grab and the subsequent ruining of several careers.
But it's all Clippers now, based not just on Donald Sterling's continued malfeasance (a good enough reason on its own) nor the team's famous propensity to curse anyone it touches. (Ask Blake Griffin.) It's the way in which the franchise (by which I mean "Donald Sterling") handled the end of Mike Dunleavy's Clippers career, notifying him of his doom as the team's GM via press release sent to the media. That's worse than firing someone by Facebook! Only the truly evil of heart would reward such callousness. Speaking of which ...
No jokes, needed: nothing would bug the good people of New York more than the Utah Jazz getting to pick between Wall and Evan Turner. The Jazz, you'll remember, acquired New York's unprotected first round pick in a series of trades no one remembers. (That's not entirely true: the trades also gave New York the Starbury era! Wound, meet salt mine.) Those who dislike what the Big Apple represents would revel in a Jazz victory Tuesday no matter how quickly they'd be booed out of an LDS potluck.
Is chaos different than evil? If you're as OCD as me, probably not. But alas, cosmic anarchy isn't quite aligned with malevolence when it comes to basketball. For example, the Clippers picking up Wall would end predictably: with microfracture surgery. For true chaos, New Orleans needs to win the lottery. You think Darren Collison's excellent temp job during Chris Paul's injury raised questions? Imagine what the selection and arrival of Wall would do. Fans and analysts currently toy with double point guard lineups in peering into the Hornets' future. They will have trouble justifying the 3-PG set, though. (This isn't the 2005 Illinois Illini, after all.) Of course, the Hornets could just trade Wall to No. 2 and pick up Turner, who fills about 10,000 needs for the team. So let's be a bit more exacting: if the Hornets win No. 1 and the Deron Williams-led Jazz get No. 2, chaos reigns.
Susan B. Anthony
The first wave of feminism was all about common-sense equality -- that's why you see Anthony here over, say, Simone de Beauvoir. As it stands, Karen Davidson, the widow of longtime Pistons owner Bill Davidson, is the league's only female controlling partner. Irene Pollin ran the way-progressive Wizards for a minute, but Ted Leonsis will be in place by the time the actual draft rolls around. The Pistons are floundering after a remarkable string of Eastern quasi-dominance, and they say it takes a woman to do things right. Davidson is looking to offload the team at some point, but it won't happen for at least a few months. A Karen-led Detroit revival via draft can only boost Jeannie Buss's hopes of knocking big brother Jimmy out of his spot in the Lakers' order of succession. And if an extremely capable woman like Jeannie ran basketball's most well-known franchise, the suffragists could rest peacefully.
Stern's is the only voice who really matters, since we all know he implants trace amounts of antimatter in selected ping pong balls in order to fix the results. (He also dips the envelopes in dry ice, but that's just because he likes to see Adam Silver writhe in pain.) So who ought Stern cook the books for this year? Why, the Kings, of course! The matter of a new arena for the Kings remains unresolved, and after the Seattle disaster Stern needs to prove there are non-tax solutions for small- to mid-markets in the NBA. Plus, the Maloofs stayed quiet during the whole Donaghy fiasco despite owning Zapruderesque tapes showing an unnamed referee yukking it up with a Gambino and the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson in The Palms' sportsbook circa May 2002. At some point, Stern needs to earn that silence, dig?
When he isn't communicating with E.T., Stephen Hawking is all about spreading the good word of science. As such, he has no greater NBA allies than Daryl Morey and Shane Battier. Morey picking Wall would show that algebra and good basketball sense can co-exist, and Battier can teach the rookie enough about probability-based defense to give the kid a head start on All-NBA status. Wins all around, assuming Hawking doesn't eventually confuse Yao Ming with an alien and demand to see his leader.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Canadian accountants are among the most practical folks you'll ever meet. Ottawans hardly root for all things Toronto, even if the Raptors remain Canada's only NBA team. But it's easy math: The No. 1 pick gets a bigger salary than the other 29 first-round choices, more salary means more taxable income, and more taxable income means more gold coins for the Secretariat and his bros to swim in Scrooge McDuck-style. And don't bet on Wall finding an American tax shelter to avoid paying for Tas Melas' broken ankles and J.E. Skeets' cold medicine -- remember how long it took Wall to pick a college to attend for eight months? Sinking a few million into a charity might take him the better part of a decade.