Behind the scenes at the NBA Draft Lottery
By Jeff Twiss
May 24, 2006
Celtics Legend and current Director of Special Projects JoJo White, Vice President of Ticket Sales, Marketing and Service Shawn Sullivan, long-time Celtics season ticket holder Marty Joyce and I rendezvoused at NBA Entertainment headquarters in Secaucus, NJ on Tuesday, May 23, for the 2006 NBA Draft Lottery. The last time the Celtics were in the Lottery was in 2001.
We started with a wonderful dinner and had the opportunity to meet and greet other NBA team representatives before JoJo and I were escorted, at approximately 6:00 pm, to the Team Participants Briefing, which was located in a conference room on the third floor of NBAE. This is the moment when NBA officials explain exactly what is going to happen to both the Lottery Room Participants (myself) and to the On-Stage Participants (JoJo).
After the briefing, the On-Stage Participants are escorted to the main studio where ESPN will broadcast the event live (at 7:30 pm) and the Lottery Room Participants stay to witness the actual selection of the four-number combinations. This occurs around 6:15 pm. Thus, the Lottery Room Participants must stay in the conference room and we cannot have any contact with the outside world until after the live ESPN coverage of the Lottery has concluded.
In summary, 14 ping pong balls are loaded into a machine and one ball is selected at a time. The league officials will then select three more balls for a total of four numbers selected, for example, 13, 4,10, 11. This year, the Celtics had 53 chances or four-number combinations assigned to them (out of 1,000) to secure the #1 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, which will be held on Wednesday, June 28. For example, the combinations for Boston started with 5 or 6, thus, balls numbered 1-4 did us very little good.
The four-ball combination selected on the first 'go' was: 13, 4, 10, 11, or in progression: 4, 10, 11, 13, and that combination was one of the 88 chances that the Toronto Raptors had assigned to them. The Raptors finished the 2005-06 season with the fifth-worst win-loss record at 27-55.
After it was determined that the Raptors were awarded the #1 pick, all the ping pong balls were placed back into the machine and four more selected to see which of the 13 remaining teams would select second in the 2006 NBA Draft. The next four-ball combination was: 4,14,10,6. Amazingly, that combination also was assigned to Toronto! Toronto only had one first-round pick so this combination was discarded and the ball placed back into the machine for a third try.
The combination of: 1,14,8,11 was chosen and the Chicago Bulls, after a trade with the New York Knicks (and 199 chances out of 1,000) last year, had this winning combination and were awarded the #2 pick in the Draft.
There was one more, the #3 pick, still to be awarded and all the ping pong balls were placed in the machine for another spin. Ironically, the four-ball combination of: 11,2,14,3 came up and the Bulls won, again. However, like the Raptors, the Bulls had just one first-round pick and this combination would be discarded.
On the fifth try, the combination of: 3,6,9,4 surfaced and the Charlotte Bobcats possessed that four-number combination and would receive the third pick overall in the 2006 NBA Draft.
The actual Lottery was then over as the teams with the win-loss records (worst to best) merely fill out the first round draft order, i.e., Portland at #4 (21-61); Atlanta at #5 (26-56); Minnesota at #6 (33-49) and the Celtics at #7 (33-49).