The New Orleans Hornets came away as the big winners in the National Basketball Association (NBA) this past week, securing the top overall selection in this summer’s NBA Draft. Conspiracy theorists have popped up everywhere around the league, noting how ironic it is that the Hornets, a team currently owned by the league, came away as draft lottery winners when their 13.7 percent chance of winning the lottery was nearly 12 percentage points less than Charlotte (25 percent) and nearly six percent less than the Washington Wizards (19 percent). With Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis the apple of many NBA executives’ eyes, for New Orleans to land the pick only increases the league’s chances (and price) of selling the team. Was the NBA lottery fixed? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley examine the idea.
Green: From Ohio native LeBron James being handed to Cleveland in 2002 to Chicago local Derrick Rose being given back to the Bulls in 2008, a fixed NBA lottery has always been the topic of discussion since its 1985 inception. The fact that the NBA happens to own the New Orleans Hornets and they just happened to win the lottery by sheer luck screams “Yeah…, Right” to me. Of course it was fixed. You have a team that’s owned by the league that also wants to sell it. There haven’t been any buyers because the team stinks so what do you do? You hand them the No. 1 overall pick for the best prospect to come along in years to make the team more attractive for a potential buyer. Brilliant.
Riley: The NBA lottery isn’t fixed; it’s all pure luck. If the lottery was rigged in a way that the league’s precious teams would win, then the Orlando Magic wouldn’t have won it in 1993 with a 1.5 percent chance and the Boston Celtics would’ve won it in 2007 when they had the second worst record in the league and Ohio State center Greg Oden and Texas small forward Kevin Durant were seen as can’t miss prospects. Theorists will find any reason to make an argument and this is just another in a long line.
Green: Money matters and it’s just hard for me to believe that this isn’t some type of financial ploy to make the Hornets more attractive to a bidder. You look at the NBA and you have referees fixing games, a fixed lottery system and an interfering commissioner who botches good trades and gives the green light on bad ones. This incident is just another in a long line of NBA slipups.
Riley: There isn’t a professional sport going that doesn’t have some type of controversy whether it’s boxing, baseball or football. Apparently, no sport is exactly pure in the eyes of onlookers. If you think the NBA is fixed just because a league-owned team happened to win the lottery then that’s your right but it sounds foolish. If the NBA were somehow trying to make the Hornets more appealing then it would’ve blocked the Chris Paul trade to the Los Angels Clippers and found a way to acquire great talent for cheap like the Lakers did when they traded Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol. Nice try basketball theorists. You’ll have an easier time proving aliens exist than selling the idea that the fix is in in the NBA.