Now I’m no conspiracy theorist... well, maybe 14 percent of the time, but I will use my best judgement to cope with the fact that the San Antonio Spurs, and not the Houston Rockets, just landed the rights to draft the best prospect in 20 years.
I’ve sensed some bad juju dating back prior to February 18, 2023, (more on this particular date) so it appears to have finally reared it’s ugly head.
Alas, in descending order from least to most likely reasons why the Rockets didn’t get the first overall pick and thus, Victor Wembanyama:
5. Sending Ime Udoka to be the NBA Draft Lottery representative
Who possibly thought this was a good idea? Who?! There’s zero chance the league would want the optics of league Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum handing the golden envelope over to Udoka. This would have been akin to parading Ja Morant on the stage had the Memphis Grizzlies been a lottery team.
4. Persistent tanking has diminishing returns
The lottery order went chalk up until the league-worst 17-65 Detroit Pistons slipped to the fifth spot, with the Rockets slide ensuing. The league’s two bottom feeders from the past three seasons have both seen their draft position continually get worse while still being as equally atrocious on the court.
The difference is that the Pistons at least got the first pick one year. If there’s any silver lining to the fixing allegations, at least teams aren’t being rewarded for extended spans of obnoxious tanking.
3. It’s an actual lottery
There’s not much to it other than this at the end of the day. We had even odds with Detroit and San Antonio and those odds just happened to be in someone else’s favor. I don’t beat myself up when I don’t win the Mega Millions, so why should this be different?
Ah yes, the common denominator for many poor decisions. Remember that date I mentioned earlier? Well that happened to be Mardi Gras in Galveston, and a reporter also happened to interview a certain owner of a certain franchise that had high hopes for the lottery.
Here is the video — Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta shouting “Pray for Victor!” at Mardi Gras in Galveston in a street interview on @KPRC2 #Rockets #PrayForVictor #Wemby pic.twitter.com/1C7Wgt5tcu— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) February 19, 2023
I just can’t fathom how an owner could lack the couth to say this out loud. Dude, we’re on the same page, but you just can’t admit this. You can tank all you want, just don’t be arrogant about it.
1. Wemby didn’t want to come here and it’s been the Spurs all along
Do I believe that prospects have much pull into where their landing spot is? Not usually, but we’ve seen it in the past across sports. Instead of facing a situation where a league’s top pick is frustrated with where they’re going, à la John Elway or Eli Manning, it makes sense that the league would take some steps to just avoid that entirely.
I also have it on pretty strong authority that Big Vic did not envision a future involving him wearing red.
I advise Rockets fans to look away if you’re squeamish.
POV : quand tu sais que tu n’iras pas aux Rockets. pic.twitter.com/0vgJthKFWY— Oklahoma City Thunder France (@OKCThunderFR) May 17, 2023
Also, on Wemby preferring the team just three hours West of us, it’s worth pointing out that he has played for not just one, but two, former Spurs. Tony Parker presided over the ASVEL Basket club and Boris Diaw runs the Metropolitans 92 club so go figure.
Yesss he’s going to the @spurs !!! So proud of you pic.twitter.com/vblbw0lcbL— Tony Parker (@tonyparker) May 17, 2023
All of that to say, I’m not surprised in the slightest. I once tweeted back in August 2021 that they were going to nab Wemby and then this will open up the door for Becky Hammon to replace Gregg Popovich as the first woman to hold a spot as head coach in the NBA. Halfway there I guess.