Playbook's NBA draft winners and losers

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
11:24
AM ET
David SternJerry Lai/US PresswireYour angry signs, shouts, boos, jeers, taunts and tweets just make David Stern that much happier.
It’s difficult to declare who the winners and losers of the 2012 NBA draft are, what with none of the players or teams involved playing any games that matter for four months.

So we will do it the only way it’s possible: by completely ignoring the basketball part of the NBA draft. Sound good? Great.

WINNERS

Anthony Davis

Getting picked No. 1 overall makes Davis the obvious winner. If the scouts are right, Davis is about to make a big difference on the court for New Orleans.

The Hornets also have to like how Davis, despite being only 19 years old, has shown he is serious off the court, too. Instead of being mocked into shaving off his unsightly unibrow in shame, he has instead embraced it. He has trademarked the phrases “Fear The Brow” and “Raise The Brow” -- saying his thick forehead mustache makes him “very unique.”

No doubt. Davis is the first NBA draft pick from the Lady Gaga “Born This Way” generation.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Davis
Elsa/Getty ImagesAnthony Davis doesn't feel the need to conform to anyone's preconceived notions of beauty.
I’m beautiful in my way.

Not ugly like they say

Eyebrows on one track, baby

I was born this way

Don’t shave your brow in regret

Just trademark it and you're set

I’m the first pick, baby

I was born this way, hey

It’s refreshing. The NBA, and sports as a whole, might be on the verge of a whole influx of players who have quote-unquote “flaws” -- back hair, buck teeth, long, unkempt fingernails with dirt under them, eye-watering body odor -- and are comfortable with them. So comfortable they market them. Or this could just be a singular thing. Like Davis’ eyebrows.

New Jersey

Despite the small detail of not having an NBA team, the draft was hosted in Newark at the Prudential Center. Whatever your perception of New Jersey is -- it’s negative, isn’t it? -- the fans in attendance made the state look good, loudly booing David Stern every time the commissioner was in view for three hours. They were outstanding. For one magical night, all of us -- from Lakers fans to SuperSonics fans -- were New Jerseyans.

But the fans at Prudential Center had more than just beautiful negative energy. When military veteran Bernard James was taken 33rd overall, the fans turned their boos into a huge ovation and chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

Great job, people of New Jersey. If/when Snooki’s baby is taken by the state, it will be in great hands.

David Stern

He got booed every second he was in sight. How is he a winner? Because he loved every moment of it. When NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is booed -- which normally occurs whenever he sets foot in public, from presenting trophies to heading around the corner for a coffee -- Bettman has a normal human reaction to being universally disliked: he looks upset and uncomfortable. Not Stern. Scorn seems to fuel David Stern. So the fans of the sport I run hate me? Awesome. Bring it.

Stern smiled, smirked and gestured to spectators when they booed him, egging them on. His finest moment of the night came when the Miami Heat picked at No. 27. With the hated Heat up and the eminently boo-able Stern announcing the pick, the fans were overcome with dislike. But instead of quickly spitting out the pick and retreating off stage, Stern walked out and stood at the podium and just lingered there not saying anything, letting the hate wash over him. He then announced, while smirking: “With the 27th pick in the 2012 NBA draft, the NBA champion Miami Heat” -- really leaning into “NBA champion” for extra effect -- [long pause for hate] select Arnett Moultrie from Mississippi State.” BOOOOOOOO! Smile from Stern.

He is not the NBA commissioner. He is the Troll King. A pro wrestling heel in wire-framed glasses and a suit. There is no point in booing David Stern, NBA fans. You’re only making him happy. Well, maybe not happy. But definitely whatever emotion Stern has that is most like happiness.

LOSERS

Duke

[+] EnlargeAustin Rivers
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty ImagesAustin Rivers has a reputation of being a little cocky.
Duke had two players taken in the first round, Austin Rivers to the Hornets at No. 10 and Miles Plumlee to Pacers at No. 26. But the way the draft analysts described them didn’t do any favors for the reputation Duke basketball has tried to build: that it produces intelligent yet humble leaders. Rivers was painted as cocky and arrogant, while Jay Bilas described Plumlee this way: “He’s another freak athlete ... when he plays instinctively, he’s really good. When he has to think his way through things, that’s when he slows down and is not quite as good. The 24-second clock benefits him. Thirty-five seconds, he starts thinking a little more.”

Why, I think Bilas might be saying his fellow Duke alum is ... not the smartest? Wow. Although Duke does deserve bonus points for producing Bilas, who came up with an admittedly eloquent way to say someone is dumb. So let’s call it a wash for Duke on the night.

Hipster Glasses Without Lenses

I may be wrong. I may have not seen it as a defense mechanism. But I don’t think there was a single player who donned fauxscription eyewear for the draft. The young generation is truly the hope for America. They embrace their supposed “imperfections” (unibrows), yet don’t jump on the latest fashion trend by pretending they have imperfections that don’t exist (poor eyesight). Even if the 2012 draft class doesn’t produce a single All-Star, if the prospects are responsible for killing the hipster glasses trend in the NBA, history will remember them as a huge success.

The World

It wasn’t long ago that the NBA draft was dominated by players born outside of the United States. Just last year, in fact, five of the first seven picks and 10 of the first 31 weren’t American. But this year the first non-American picked was Andrew Nicholson at No. 19 to Orlando -- and he’s Canadian. What’s going on? Europe gets the French Open, Euro soccer, Wimbledon, the British Open and the Olympics all in one summer and suddenly thinks it doesn’t need a sport invented in America? Is that how it is, Europe? Well, we’re going to keep making our soccer players not good enough to play over there. Take THAT.

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