I had originally planned on writing this last night, immediately after the Draft, juicing flowing and adrenaline still high. I didn't get back to my place until 1:45, had to catch up on all the comments in the threads, and by that point I was just wiped. So this is the morning after. I'm still beat, not forming terribly cohesive thoughts, but ready and raring to pump this mother out as quickly (and efficiently, of course) as possible.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I want to backtrack and preface the whole article. You were, presumably, watching the draft. You didn't come to this site to find out who the Sixers picked this morning. I think we're more of a community than a Parliament-Peasantry dynamic and I don't feel like I'm worlds more important anybody reading this. So when I found out that after months of begging Jordan to ask, I was being given media credentials for the Draft, the first thing that came to mind was the behind-the-scenes post I'd be writing to give you guys a sense of how things go down. So here goes an all-access, hold-onto-your-jockstrap look at what went down last night. TAFKAMB? More like DRAFTKAMB!
You'll have to hit the jump first.
The committee at SB Nation was being decidedly more favorable to the idea of me being credentialed because the Sixers had the second pick, so when I got the confirmation e-mail from Bright Side of the Sun's Seth Pollack saying he had submitted my credentials to the NBA, it wasn't too much of a surprise, but evoked a response similar to a man who found out that they won't have to get a vasectomy. Thanks to Derek and Scott for a few nuggets of advice, I came into draft night dressed appropriately and ready to go.
I got to the arena at 4:30 with plans to meet up with the one and only Seth Rosenthal from Posting and Toasting, Mike Prada from Bullets Forever, Tom Martin from Dream Shake, Jon L from Ridiculous Upside, Brian Levy also affiliated with RU and former GM of the East Kentucky Miners (!!!) and Derek from you-know-where. I don't know how much you guys know about Madison Square Garden but it's a big honkin' place. So while Seth was screening my calls, I was running around producing more sweat than your average Pygmy Hippopotamus in my white undershirt, holding onto my blue button down so I didn't coat it with my body odor just yet (stay tuned).
Finally, Seth told me to find a discrete path that leads to an unidentifiable door. Terrifically optimistic. I put my shirt on and realized that I had grabbed my roommates similar-looking button down that was too baggy on me. I was forced to tuck in, but did so unhappily as my pectoral muscles that I had been juicing for the past month in preparation for this event would be less evident in this top. Curses.
I actually found the place guarded by a large gentleman with the least-defined cheek bones I'd seen in some time. He put his horse leg of an arm out to block my path to which I responded: "Media Credentials?" as he nodded and let me pass. Inside, I saw my first celeb: Fran Fraschilla. Things were looking up already. After taking a picture ("Cheese-its!" Even at the NBA Draft, I'm 4 years old), the machine spewed out my picture with me looking like I always do: head cocked sideways with a hint of jaundice and confusion. Perfect.
The NBA actually told me nothing at all about where to go or how to get there. I figured I would get the most intricate map in the world that could zoom in like Super Mario Bros. with a Luigi-like Marc Cuban waving for me to follow him. Instead, I sidled up to three Spanish-speaking gentlemen who were heading for the elevator. Knowing my recent success with elevators, I decided to follow them on. We went up to the ever-mysterious 5th floor and, getting out, it looked like some sort of warehouse.
Behind the blue curtains, however, was food. Not just any food. Free food. And as a poor college student on an un-paid internship not living at home, free food is better than sex. Piling the chicken parm, mashed potatoes, and
veggies more chicken parm onto my plate, I sat at a table all by my onesies, tried not to get spaghetti sauce over my roommate's shirt and admired ESPN-turned-MSG guy Bill Pidto from afar. Waiting for Seth to haul his lard ass over to the Garden, I wandered down to the WaMu Theatre and got my first glimpse of the whole shabang.
Seth caught up with me and we saw that there were just two SB Nation seats made available for us in press row on the media floor. Hoping to get there before Tom and Prada, we flashed our media badges for the first of about a million times that night and found the seats already occupied by them. Rats. So, naturally, we did what anybody would do: Sit in the seats marked "Black Athlete Sports Network" next to them. Figuring this plan surely couldn't backfire, we open up the lappies and started twittering like mad. I snapped a few pics here, so check 'em out.
The foreground is hogged by Seth's hebraic curls. Them's the ESPN boys in the back.
So back to the narrative, I'm sitting there pretty much with the widest smile I've had since I urinated on the doctor who birthed me (he deserved it), looking around at everyone more important than me. Kevin Durant walked by and I had to use restraint not to hug him, JA Adande was standing right next to me and I didn't want to pull a JSams so I kept it together, Jay Wiliams walked by numerous times, and Michael Wilbon roamed the area as well. Obviously Woj was the stud tweeting everything in the world and always being right. We did manage to get into Brandon Jennings new facebook picture -- check us out in the top left.
But, as Seth and I came to learn, all good things involving disguising yourself as a B.A.T.N. reporter must come to an end, and end they did, as a man of darker complexion gave us das boot from press row. Discouraged but not ready to give up, we planned our return for the Mythical Second Round, of which Ed Stefanski has only heard rumors. Popping two squats directly in front of the ESPN crew of Stu Scott, JVG,
Brent Rick Drew Jon Barry, and Mr. Wingspan himself, Bay Jilas (I like that better). Over the next hour of waiting for the Draft to begin, these bullet points happened.
- The NBA interns mingled with each other and I felt like I was watching some less-attractive-but-more-basketball-related version of The Hills. I don't think I liked a single one of them, especially the kid who claimed he wanted John Wall to slip to the Nets at 3. Okay, guy.
- David Stern came out, practiced his lines, then pelted a camera guy with a basketball. Someone has to have footage of this somewhere.
- I learned Seth about jibs, as there was one next to us.
- I thought I saw Marshall Faulk at least 6 times. To my knowledge he wasn't there.
- Absolutely no one recognized us from our respective blogs
- There were much more attractive women there than I had anticipated. Seth kept trying to mack on Holly Mackenzie. Every time a girl would walk by, my first instinct was to pretend I was blogging on my computer -- not sure if that's your best bet, Mike.
- They let the fans in, to my misanthropic chagrin. We are now surrounded by the uncredentialed ones.
- An 8th grade Jersey fan gave me and Seth a hard time for not getting paid enough for this (Seth: 5 mil, Me: Bag of pretzels). He then went on to criticize our blogs without having read them, and presumed we were poor at making love. His father, however, kept telling him to shut up. Gotta love North Jersey family dynamics!
- The Kings fans were terrifically annoying, only worsened by the phenomenal draft they went on to have.
Fast forward to John Wall getting picked by the Wizards. Sixers on the clock. I began to run through the possible scenarios of the ways the Sixers could screw this up in my head.
The Minnesota Vikings.
- If Sharone Wright re-declared.
- Trading the pick for Kevin Ollie.
- Opting to forfeit the pick and just pay Elton Brand more money for more years.
- Willie Green clones himself.
With these five possibilities running amok in my poor brain, David Stern stepped up to the podium.
The scream is mine, the "Alade Aminu" is Seth's. I had not planned on making this noise, but since we were in with the fans, I felt the need to blend in with them. On Press Row, this would have been a little less acceptable. As I watched my boy head off the stage to his couch interview, I saw Sixers PR man Mike Preston and a throng of guys in suits gather down the stairs next to him. I knew there was some sort of post-draft press conference but I wasn't sure where it was or if I was allowed in. Gaining strength from Seth's kind whispers in my ear, I headed for the back.
Waiting with a bunch of people, I flashed my media badge to an usher and he let me pass. Turner, Preston, and a bunch of cameras walked by, and I latched on as the caboose. Fans were screaming and yelling things at Evan, a few "Let's go Sixers" chants broke out, tons of pictures were taken, and I was probably in half of them as the skinny dude in the back. On and on we marched through the annals of MSG, past a few lobbies, down some stairs, through the trapdoor, past the media restaurant, and finally into a bigger press conference room. John Wall was midway through his open presser and half of me wanted to stop but I knew my best chance at anything would be if I stayed with Evan.
Avoiding cameras and cable-wranglers, I found a little spot behind Preston while Turner was interviewed by Craig Sager. Re-introducing myself to Mike after having met him at the new court unveiling last year, we chatted for a minute sharing our love for Evan as the Sixers new guard. I desperately wanted to ask him something, but I couldn't just yet -- and I wanted to ask Evan myself.
Once ET wrapped with Craig, he waited for John Wall to finish up. That is when I struck. I weaved my way through a few cameramen and stood a few feet away from Evan. Regaining my "I'm a Media Member" gameface, I said "Hey Evan" and sort of half-tapped him on the back. He turned and looked at me, recognized my face, and said "Oh man hey how you doing, good to see you." *Our third handshake together* I told him he was great yesterday and I wanted to congratulate him on being drafted. I asked him what jersey number he plans on wearing.
12, you gonna buy one?
Absolutely I'm gonna buy one, we already have Evan Turner shirts made at the site, I'll send you one.
Alright sounds good man. Take care.
While this was all going on, still and video cameras were capturing this interaction, assuming that I was some sort of important person or possibly being prepared in case I was a crazy guy with a knife, which I wasn't. If anybody can find those pictures or video anywhere, I'd love to see if my recollection of the event is accurate. I decided that while I'm here, I may as well go hog-wild, and, upon agreement my Mike Prada, sit in on the press conference. Why not?
So I took a seat on Evan's right, a few rows back, and started recording. At this point I'm sky-high with excitement at the fact that Evan remembered me, perhaps not by name, but whatever -- I'm in. I decided that while I'm here, screw it, I may as well ask a question at the presser. Only thing was I really had nothing to ask after the day before, and not much had changed so only the worthless "how do you feel" questions were left. I had nothing, so I went with this:
Evan right over here, good talking to you man.
Oh hey how you doing?
What can Philadelphia from you right off the bat? Talk to 'em.
First of all, that's not a good question. I'm aware of this. It's not terrible, but it's an opportunity for him to give the same answer he's given a billion times and really just waste his time. Secondly, and more important, talk to whom? Philadelphians? The reporters sitting in front of him? The cast of Happy Days? I'm convinced that most of what I do, I subconsciously do it so I can insult myself for it later. As long as I still get to talk to ET, I think I'm cool with that.
So it ended and I headed back to my seat thrilled but still kind of disappointed. I didn't get Turner to say what I wanted him to for the site, which would have been something to the effect of:
Hey ya'll I'm Sixers Shooting Guard Evan Turner. LibertyBallers.com: ET's New Home.
But I didn't think it was the appropriate time and couldn't muster up the courage to ask Preston if it was okay. One day though, we'll get that clip. We will get that clip.
And that was really it for the Sixers portion of the draft. While I had hoped for another pick, as we all did, I didn't think there was much chance of Ed making the necessary moves. Take solace in the fact that we have Evan Turner and didn't trade Andre Iguodala. And that's cool.
A few more bullet points to close up because this is already getting way too long.
- The Media pass was beyond cool, I could've literally gone anywhere. Including on the podium, which I was dared to do multiple times by Tom and Seth.
- Yes, there were times when I said via Twitter "sources say" or "I'm hearing" about teams or players but that's only because Seth was saying it next to me, and he's about the best source I got ('cept Wikipedia) so I figured it would be okay.
- I went undrafted yet again despite having soft hands and a solid 3/4 sprint. Eligible next year though so don't worry.
- Knicks fans reactions to the Rautins/Landry picks were priceless -- including Seth's stunned face.
- The idiots in the crowd who kept chanting USA whenever the Raptors were picking or when Kevin Seraphin got drafted and some guys held up a French flag should be taken out back and forced to milk a pig. I don't get why people suck so hard. Not about the pig milking, I was referring to the ignorance and xenophobia.
- Adam Silver loves life
- The ESPN draft crew has much less fun than I would if I was covering the draft for a major television network.
- Just realized I went like 8 hours there without food, water, or a bathroom break. Big ups to my body.
- This is what Tom, Mike and Seth looked like when all was said and done.
- My thoughts about the non-Sixers picks will be up on Ridiculous Upside today or tomorrow. Preview: I'm irate about Ryan Reid and Magnum Rolle.
- We left around 1 or 1:30, I was too drunk on prospects to remember. Tom, Seth and I walked out with Stu Scott, Jon Barry, and Jay Bilas (no word on where JVG was -- I'm assuming he went to sleep right on the podium). I didn't want to miss an opportunity to shake Jay's hand, so I went for Jon and told him they did a great job. Shook Jon's hand ("Thanks man"), gave Stu a hand pound (no hugs though -- "My hands are full"), and got a helluva smile and firm handshake from Jay ("Good to see you" -- you too, Jay). As we left the Garden to Seth's smirks, people were outside taking pictures and wanting to get their autographs and, presumably, ours. We got in a couple of walking pictures, said our goodbyes (I chatted with Derek for a few minutes while he waited for the immortal Jon Givony) and I walked home.
Let's put this baby to bed with a few closing thoughts. Huge thanks go to SBNation and the NBA for setting me up -- it was an amazing chance to do something I love to do, which is creep on guys that are much taller than I. More thanks to Jordan, who always has my best interests at heart and keeps me in check on what I can and can't say. Additional thanks to Scott Schroeder, who reportedly was pushing for me to get credentialed in the first place, and certainly appreciate him letting me call Ridiculous Upside my second home. Love for Prada, Martin, and Rosenthal for repping the SBN crew hard up with the big boys.
Last night was awesome. Hope to do it again next year.
The coolest part of this is now I can say I have a friend who plays for the Sixers.