It’s March. In New York, that means three things:
- We start to lie to ourselves that it is almost warm
- We all pretend we know something about college basketball
- We’re officially two months away from the seventh most important draft lottery in the 35 years we’ve been doing this.
Right now, the top six are pretty unassailable. They are, in receding date order, the Davis lottery, the LeBron lottery, the Duncan lottery, the Shaq lottery, the Admiral lottery, and of course, the Ewing lottery.
All were sure things, all are Hall of Famers, and all became part of the fabric of the league to some extent.
Zion, for all of his shoe-shattering glory, is not the fait accompli any of them were, but you could argue that there’s been no greater drop-off between the first and second pick than Williamson’s perceived value and the value of the next best guy.
That’s why this one slots in ahead of the Yao lottery (Jay Williams went second), the Wall lottery (Evan Turner) and the Towns lottery (Okafor/Russell). In most people’s minds before each draft, the downgrade in talent for those years wasn’t as severe even though the eventual results said otherwise. You could convince me that the Webber and Blake lotteries should be in the conversation with Zion, but as of now, I’m giving the edge to the dude who did this.
Regardless, May 14 is still a really, really, really freaking important night. It’s why a site like Tankathon.com, with its daily Single Sims, has become the guiltiest of pleasures. I have to admit, I took a bite of the forbidden fruit myself earlier this week:
The farcical nature of my question didn’t stop a flood of responses. Nor should it have. It’s been 35 years since the Knicks got one of these right, and the Knicks will have no shortage of options to send to Chicago for the unveiling.
So let’s lend a hand. Below are several candidates suggested by you, my Twitter followers, that we’ll assess from 1 to 5 on four criteria: karma, absurdity/comedy, fan endorsement/approval, and how realistic the choice is of happening. Note: if multiple people suggested it, dibs to who did first.
To begin, our honorable mentions:
Desus and Mero (Suggested by @NYSportsGuys5)
From what I hear, Desus and Mero are awesome and I would probably love them.
Sadly, I have a small child, and before her, I was still practicing law, so my television consumption has been pretty pathetic for several years. I’ve only seen these guys in spurts. They seem cool. If anyone wants to buy my broke ass a subscription to Showtime, PayPal me $11 a month at paypal.me/jcmacrinba and I promise I’ll order it and make it a priority to watch.
Until then, I got nothin’.
Karma: 2 Absurdity: 3 Fan endorsement: 4 Realistic: 1 Total: 10
Following the KP trade, there was a burbling undercurrent on Knicks Twitter of “see, Phil wasn’t that crazy after all!”
It was a little too sliding doors-y for me to buy. Still, no one person has been linked with as many great Knicks througout history: he played with Willis and Walt, he’s a big part of why Patrick doesn’t have a ring, and he was indirectly responsible for KP’s entrance into and exit from the franchise.
There’s also the fact that we haven’t seen or heard from him in years, and based on the totality of his Knicks tenure, he might be senile. His last tweet in June was about the science of meditation. Seeing him amble around the stage, maybe mistakenly sit down at the Bulls’ or Lakers’ table, and generally not be connected with reality would be humorous enough to lessen the blow of not getting Zion.
Karma: 3 Absurdity: 5 Fan endorsement: 2 Realistic: 1 Total: 11
Maybe it’s just me, but I think having Stern in that seat would be positively brilliant theater, and it has nothing to do with the frozen envelope.
Would Stern openly loath having to be the one to gift the number one overall pick to an owner he probably would have liked to see gone years ago? Or would he be thrilled to be the man who finally delivers the prize, as he recently seemed to include himself as a member of the starved fan base?
I have no idea, but just seeing Stern in all his rumpled glory would make this fun.
Karma: 4 Absurdity: 4 Fan endorsement: 2 Realistic: 1 Total: 11
Dolan J. Trump (Suggested by @KevKnoxBurner)
For the ill-informed, this is a former Nets fan who runs a parody account of a guy who won an election he had no business winning in large part because he talked about how much winning he would do if he won. Sounds like an appropriate choice!
The way the Knicks have been run this century, they probably deserve Zion about as much as the real Trump deserves to run the country, so there’s some definite karmic potential here.
Karma: 3 Absurdity: 4 Fan endorsement: 3 Realistic: 1 Total: 11
Just checking to make sure you’re still paying attention.
Kevin Durant (Suggested by @jesuisad)
Given that the Warriors would likely still be playing basketball on May 14, logistically, this one might be tough. Even if they get bounced early, I could see the league office frowning upon this.
I also think there’d be a subset of fans that would want someone with existing connections to the franchise, as opposed to an outsider taking his place atop the throne before fighting a single battle.
Still, can’t hurt to ask.
Karma: 2 Absurdity: 5 Fan endorsement: 4 Realistic: 1 Total: 12
Mitchell Robinson (Suggested by @NYGKnicks)
It’s safe to say that Mitchell Robinson will end the season as the current Knicks who has engendered the most positive feelings among the fan base, which makes him an obvious choice for that reason alone.
Robinson also brings with him the possibility that, should the Knicks’ envelope appear before the top pick, he walks up to NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum and swats the card from his hand, forcing him to take another envelope in it’s place.
Sadly, choosing Robinson is ridden with karmic pitfalls. For one, he was drafted 36th overall. The lottery gods could easily view the Knicks as unworthy of the top pick when they’ve already done so well with a second-rounder.
Second, pound for pound, Mitch might be the most freakish athlete in the league…until Zion plays his first game. Would said gods giggle in delight at the thought of these two sharing a court together, or would they deem it a flight too close to the sun with freakishly long wings? I wouldn’t be shocked if Mitch was the pick, so we may get to find out.
Karma: 3 Absurdity: 1 Fan endorsement: 4 Realistic: 4 Total: 12
Pablo Prigioni (Suggested by @Brenhart31)
As Zach Lowe recently noted on his podcast, Pablo Prigioni might be the most favoritest of all the Knicks fan favorites over the last two decades.
That’s not why he should get the nod. If ever the numerical symmetry of the former 35-year-old rookie who averaged 3.5 points while appearing in 53 of the team’s wins should be put to good use, it’s during the summer when a player who wears number 35 is deciding whether to come to New York.
Also, how fitting would it be if a guy who always seemed to get just a bit too much credit from fans became the savior of the franchise for merely sitting and watching a small cardboard placard get pulled out of a novelty envelope?
Sadly, he works for the Nets, so I don’t know that this one is happening.
Karma: 4 Absurdity: 3 Fan endorsement: 4 Realistic: 1 Total: 12
Ok, ok….I’ll stop. Also, sorry for listing the same person twice in a row.
Let’s get to the top four.
Patrick Ewing (Suggested by @Atlasjsh)
Almost too obvious of a choice, and probably the one the most fans would support.
Would Patrick do it? Doubtful. Not only does he have no affiliation with the organization, but they’ve never so much as granted him an interview during the many times their head coaching position became available.
Maybe the better question is whether such a shameless attempt to use the positive karma from the last time the Knicks won the lottery would backfire.
Also, umm…I hate to say it, but, ah, uhh…it’s not like Patrick ever won the big one while he was here, ya know?
(ducks, runs for cover)
Karma: 4 Absurdity: 2 Fan endorsement: 5 Realistic: 2 Total: 13
Spike [with his Oscar] (Suggested by @2ForgetUs)
Spike has been making movies since before the Knicks won the lottery in 1985, and he just now won his first Oscar. It might be a sign.
There are, however, three significant issues:
- Spike has become a bit of a fair-weather fan this season. I don’t know exactly how many games he’s been to, but it’s far less than in years past.
- His Oscar win came for a movie that maybe sneaks into the bottom of his personal top five. Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, He Got Game and 25th Hour are unassailable. That leaves BlacKkKlansman competing with Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, She’s Gotta Have It and arguably Clockers and School Daze for the last spot. This has “With the fifth pick, the New York Knicks select…” written all over it.
- Most significantly, the first rule of tanking is that you do not talk about tanking.
Karma: 3 Absurdity: 4 Fan endorsement: 4 Realistic: 2 Total: 13
Natasha Sen-Fizdale (Suggested by @BlessNYC)
The recent history (and, as far as I can tell, the only history) of women at the NBA Draft Lottery is a solid if unspectacular one.
In 2014, Mallory Edens, a high school senior and the daughter of Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens, represented Milwaukee and they came away with the number two pick despite having the worst record in the league. Still, given the odds at the time, this was technically a win.
Then last year, Hawks co-owner and actress Jami Gertz was the Hawks rep that nabbed the third pick after her team finished tied for the third worst record. Again, they didn’t win, but they still came out better than the math suggested they should.
That brings us to Natasha Sen-Fizdale, and perhaps more importantly, her husband David.
Opinions on the head coach are mixed as he nears the end of his first season, but there’s one thing that is not in dispute: in Natasha, he absolutely, 100% out-kicked his coverage. Forget the fact that she’s beautiful; she’s the owner of a marketing agency and is by all accounts an awesome person, having become involved in the community at every stop along her husband’s journey. I don’t care if he has the most engaging personality in the world and carries around a 12-inch…clipboard, landing Natasha was…well, it was like winning the lottery.
It’s those type of odds the Knicks will need to overcome in a little more than two months. It almost makes her the perfect choice.
Karma: 4 Absurdity: 3 Fan endorsement: 5 Realistic: 3 Total: 15
Charles Oakley (Suggested by @YanksFamBam)
Being a Knicks fan is so frustrating, not because we usually suck (although this doesn’t help) and not because our leadership is often inept (ditto), but because we have an owner who by all accounts can speak and act in ways that are not so much…what’s the word…pleasant? Sure, let’s go with pleasant.
Sometimes it’s easy and convenient to stick our head in the sand, a thing which we all have to do as human beings from time to time unless you’re a monk. Not with the Oakley incident.
I’ve heard from people in private who were there that night, and am convinced there is legitimacy to the Garden’s side of the story. It doesn’t matter. The way it was handled in the moment and afterwards was petty, ugly, and honestly pretty disgraceful. More importantly, the relationship should have never soured to the point where such a situation could have transpired in the first place. Oakley embodied being a Knick, and his becoming estranged should have been avoided by any means necessary.
Asking Oakley to sit on the lottery dais would, in effect, mean that things had been patched up between he and the organization. This would almost surely require an apology from the owner who so often leaves us feeling conflicted over our fandom. That would represent more progress for this team than anything they can do this July or the next ten seasons combined. It would be exactly the type of karma that the Knicks need heading into May 14. It’s reason enough for him to be the guy.
But there’s more. Follow me down memory lane for a moment…
Charles Oakley was traded for Marcus Camby, who was included in the deal for Antonio McDyess, who was later part of the trade for Penny Hardaway, who was dealt to Orlando for Steve Francis, who was traded to Portland for Zach Randolph, who was shipped to LA for Tim Thomas, who was sent to the Bulls for Eddy Curry, who was a part of the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster. Melo was later sent to Oklahoma City for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and the rights to Chicago’s second round pick the following year, which the Knicks would use on a gangly mystery man who skipped his freshman year of college and fell all the way down to the 36th pick in the draft as a result.
So yes, Charles Oakley is indirectly responsible for Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks latest, best hope for their first homegrown star since Patrick Ewing, the man who was once Oakley’s running mate in New York.
It’s only fitting that he be sent to Chicago – the place the Knicks got him from to begin with – to try to deliver the Knicks’ new center a partner of his own, and New York the star is has so desperately been craving.
Bring it home, Oak. Let’s do this.
Karma: 5 Absurdity: 4 Fan endorsement: 5 Realism: 2 Total: 16