The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night will determine the order of the top 14 selections of the first round. The picks are selected randomly, though many are unconvinced that the NBA doesn’t have a hand in the process.
Since the lottery’s inception, there have been rumors that it’s been fixed. In 1985, the New York Knicks won the first overall pick. It enabled the organization to select Patrick Ewing, who was considered among the most highly touted college recruits.
There’s been speculation for years that commissioner David Stern knew he was picking the Knicks’ envelope, giving them the best college basketball player in the country. The lottery helped revive basketball in the No. 1 media market in the nation, as the Knicks would go on to reach the playoffs in 14 straight seasons. Conspiracy theorists note that the envelope Stern picked had a crease in it, allowing the commissioner to purposely choose the Knicks.
The theory has never been proven, and there aren’t many more examples of the event potentially being fixed. There have been questions surrounding two of the most recent lotteries.
In 2008, the Chicago Bulls were awarded the top pick. After a 33-win season, the team had less than a two percent chance of being awarded the top spot. It might be a stretch, but some have attempted to use that as evidence that the process was fixed, because the Bulls’ odds were so low. Just like in 1985, the 2008 NBA Lottery helped revive basketball in a big-market city, as Derrick Rose turned Chicago into a winner.
Four years later, more eyebrows were raised when the New Orleans Hornets won the No.1 overall pick. The organization was able to draft Anthony Davis, who was the clear-cut top prospect, and has emerged as one of the best big men in the league. New Orleans is one of the smallest markets in the NBA, but the team was owned by the NBA at the time, and the ability to draft Davis raised the value for the club.
During Stern’s tenure as the commissioner, no real evidence was ever presented to prove that he affected the lottery. After the 2012 draft lottery, he made headlines when he appeared on sport talkshow host Jim Rome’s radio show. Rome asked Stern if the lottery was rigged, and Stern replied by asking Rome if he had stopped beating his wife, looking to prove how ridiculous the question was.
For the first time, new commissioner Adam Silver will preside over the draft lottery.
The Milwaukee Bucks have the best chance of winning the first pick in this year’s lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers have a 6.3 percent chance of getting the top spot, and a lottery win for them could pique the interest of even more conspiracy theorists.