The 2007 NBA Draft Running (Around) Diary

NEW YORK, June 28, 2007 -- Let's be honest. Anyone can keep a running diary of what they are watching at home on television... but not everyone can keep a running (literally) diary of what's going on at and behind the scenes at the NBA Draft. And that's really where the most interesting things happen.

Behind (and underneath) the arena you and I know as Madison Square Garden sits a big theater (appropriately) known as "The Theater." For those who have been watching the NBA Draft on TV the past few years, you instantly recognize the big stage and Orchestra Pit-turned-Green Room directly in front of it. But what you don't see is what happens after the player is picked and shakes the hand of NBA Commissioner David Stern. After the pictures are taken, the picks are ushered through an obstacle course of media and interview stations spread out throughout the bowels of The Garden. (We call it "The Car Wash.")

Camera crews from all over the world set up makeshift studios out of any space available, laptops are plugged in just about everywhere and wires of all sizes and colors run in different directions. (Whatever happened to the wireless revolution I read so much about?) Offices are turned into interview rooms, hallways become reception spaces, interview rooms are made into hallways, reception rooms are used as storage spaces for empty boxes, restrooms are converted into dining rooms and janitor closets become the only available staff office space (no word where the maintenance staff have temporarily stored their mops and brooms). And there are more stairs than you can imagine connecting all of these places and it can take up to 10 or 15 minutes to walk from one end of the place to the other (I knew high heels were a bad choice).

So armed only with my Blackberry (and the two fastest thumbs around), I did my best to keep tabs on everything I could tonight, spanning from one end of the building to the other and emailing myself along the way. I was also assisted by my intern, Judd Hirsch Jr., who had the enviable task of escorting players from the green room through the media circuit. Even when the cameras and tape recorders were not on, JHJ was like fly on the wall (but with better hair). He saw and heard a little bit of everything. Between the two us, we probably logged 10 or 15 miles just walking back and forth with the 20 players on hand to hear their names called and learn where they'd be playing their professional basketball (barring any trades that have happened in the past :15 seconds).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 05:16 PM
Subject: Re: arrivals

lets start out by mentioning that its on the plus side 90 degrees outside and there are already more than a thousand people in the building. im sweating more than if i was stuck on the platform waiting for the rush-hour a-train (and im not talking about al horford), which runs right beneath my feet.

by the way, this whole idea could be hard because the ( and ) are hard to type on the bberry. stay tuned oh, as far as caps and apostrophes and the like, who needs them? you get what im saying, right? (just pretend this is me text messaging you from a party.)

i got to meet oden for the first time last night at a draft-eve reception and count me among those who were impressed (and not just by the swanky penthouse apartment that played host to the gathering). i think we may need to work on his soft handshake before he meets the commissioner in a little more than an hour... i know he has some big hands and i, well, dont, but it was like he was holding a wounded bird (all you golfers out there will get that one). people can confuse a weak handshake for a lack of confidence, but that's not the case with the 7-footer. in spending some time with oden's dad, greg oden sr., last night (a truly humble man and respectable man), he said that he and his family were much more nervous than greg junior. he also told me that greg has more than 60 guests in town (i hope they're not all named greg, too).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 05:52 PM
Subject: Re: adam silver's debut

tonight will mark the debut of new nba deputy commissioner adam silver at the draft. he will be announcing the second round picks. he takes over for russ granik, who retired last year. adam was here extra early rehearsing the names at the podium and getting instructions about learning which camera to look into. he told me that we can expect up to four costume changes tonight and that his assistant picked out his outfits for him (i think he was kidding, but we'll be keeping tabs). at least he's not nervous... though he hasn't started practicing names and pronunciations yet.

"it's 5:45 now and i don't go on until 10:30, so i should be able to find 15 minutes to get some studying in," silver said. "that's what the green room is for."

he also got some good advice from his good friend, mr. granik.

"he told me to break a leg. i'm not sure if he meant it literally, but he did say that he was available and standing by if something happens to me tonight."

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 06:02 PM
Subject: Re: gotta love the ushers

things heard while walking back and forth:

"don't do anything stupid" -- the head of security to his assembled team of 60 or so ushers in their matching green suits.

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 06:12 PM
Subject: Re: more arrivals

the party has finally arrived. players, their families and guests have begun filing into the building and are finding their seats in the green room. as predicted, oden has the largest group

people in my business (who knew stalking athletes was a business?) have a tendency to throw the word "legend" around waaaay too much (any former player in the nba automatically becomes a legend after they've retired) but i truly believe that these two guys will be real legends when all is said and done with their careers (looking forward to covering their careers in real-time, too).

oh, and in case you didn't hear, the players will be blogging live tonight and i've been tasked with helping them set up the lenovo computers at each table in the green room. let's just hope that the top guys get their posts in before they get picked (now i know how our IT guys back in the office feel trying to deal with me)...

right now the 15 players invited are gathering on the stage for a big group picture. lining them up in height order is proving to be quite the ordeal. i always thought they should do the human pyramid like a fraternity rush photo. up next, they are grouping every possible combination of players... and now throwing in some VIPs to boot. david stern, player agents, nba interns, hot dog vendors from 8th avenue...

oh, and snap judgment best dressed: rodney stuckey (he's rocking the off-white and cream colors tonight).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 06:28 PM
Subject: Re: commissioner's green room

the one area that few people will get to see tonight is the commissioner's green room. mr. stern was not back there while i happened to peek in, but the food spread is impressive. stern, silver and their staffs will have a nice choice of cold cuts, fruits and sweet snacks to nosh on (chocolate chip cookies are reportedly his favorite). alas, i was too afraid to partake myself...

on the way back, i did just pass an amazing-looking spread of food in the green room. i hope i get to eat tonight. i don't hink me chances are very good. thankfully, someone on our nba.com team brought candy. (thanks, rob!)

also... the hats... ever wonder how they have hats ready and standing by to give to the picks as soon as they get on stage? adidas has a bountiful supply standing by just backstage... i don't think theyd notice if a few went missing, would they? (i have some birthday and graduation presents i havent had time to go shopping for.)

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From: Judd Hirsch Jr/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 06:48 PM
Subject: Re: counting the steps

a security guard just mistook me for a fan. i showed him my credential and corrected him by explaining to him that i was an nba official assiged to work the draft. he said i was too short to work for the nba (no more talking to msg security).

by the way, someone just spilled a can of sprite near your computer, you might want to go back and check out and see that everything is okay.

(well done, intern, good report. talk about on-the-job training. keep 'em coming)

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 06:55 PM
Subject: Re: pre-game meal

one of the great new traditions (i think it started last year) is the pre-game meal that only the players get to participate in (and one nosy nba.com spy). the last thing these guys do before heading to their tables is gather for a quick bite to eat. it was also a time for the guys to compare outfits.

"do you see me," joakim noah yelled out to no one in particular. "do you see us?"

the menu consisted of grilled chicken caesar salad, turkey wraps, pasta, chicken tenders and some chocolate chip cookies

noah is wearing a light seersucker suit, but was careful to take his jacket off before putting some mustard on his wrap.

"just in case," he told me before going over to talk with an old friend in french. (why did i listen to my guidance counselor and take spanish in high school?)

and how relaxed was everyone? kevin durant was singing a love ballad by a popular young r&b singer who shall remain nameless (last thing we want to do is start any rumors), serenading anyone who would listen.

finally, it was on to the green room where the players were given a quick tutorial on how to blog. at least it was a good way to avoid looking nervous in front of the thousands of cameras.

"i'm suffocating in here," mike conley jr. said. "its crazy in here."

and just before the cameras started rolling, al horford's two-year old son stopped by to wish all of the gators good luck.

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 07:21 PM
Subject: Re: cameras are rolling

hello, marco belinelli's lady friend. nice to meet you (praying the knicks take him...).

wait, is that dick vitale i hear yelling over the espn live audio feed? is it october already? let's get this draft going!

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 07:37 PM
Subject: Re: the first picks

and we're rolling, greg oden is off the board (i did not see that one coming!)

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 07:42 PM
Subject: Re: and we have a trade

the problem with being here is that we have no idea what's happening until we hear about it on television. and i'm not at a television. i think ray allen was just traded to the chinese basketball association. at least that's what i was able to make out eavesdropping a conversation on the way back to the stage.

and there goes kevin durant. now it's anyone's guess (have you checked out our mock draft?!?!).

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From: Judd Hirsch Jr/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 07:44 PM
Subject: Re: counting the steps

depending on where they were sitting in the green room, it was approximately 16 to 24 steps and 7 stairs from their seat to the podium to meet the commissioner (though it might be fewer since their stride is likely larger than mine).

by the way, i've already walked back and forth from the stage to the media circuit area four times. 67 stairs and 197 flat steps in each direction. this is going to be a long night. we have learned one thing... his favorite band is definitely not duran duran.

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 07:51 PM
Subject: Re: putting al in the atl

al horford was just the florida gator taken today... going to the hawks. we were just told that he speaks spanish and portugese as well (bienvenido al nba), so i hope the international tv folks across the way are warming up their cameras!

meanwhile, greg oden has just arrived at the first media station and there are about 800 reporters crowded in a 10x10 space. kevin durant is across the hall doing an interview with kenny smith for nba tv. it's standing room only up here (and it's starting to smell). as durant was finishing up his interview, he passed by a monitor and saw that jeff green was just taken with the fifth pick that was dealt in the boston deal. he clapped his approval and help up the throng of reporters following him to watch as green met with the espn crew.

meanwhile, it's a free-for-all with stickers going on... you need a green sticker for the green room, a red one for back of house and a co-worker's daughter just gave me a snowman sticker that she stuck to my credential (maybe that gets me a free snow cone at the concession stand).

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From: Judd Hirsch Jr/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 08:02 PM
Subject: Re: what a good guy

greg oden just knocked over a bottle of water that was on the floor, stopped and went back to clean up the mess. now that's a good guy. meanwhile, andy katz is trying to get through to the milwaukee bucks on his cell phone. he has been on the phone since i got here at 4 o'clock.

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 08:17 PM
Subject: Re: my bad

it's crazy right now. i accidentally just called julian wright by the wrong name. apparently he and brandan wright are two different people (oooopsies).

with all of these local camera crews set up around the circuit, these guys are answering the same questions over and over again, i don't know how they do it, reall. they should really just set up all the cameras at once. oh, and gus johnson is here and loves what the celtics have done so far...

"pierce, jefferson and now allen, that's a pretty good team."

and here it comes... yi jianlin was just drafted. i fear for my safety with the crew of reporters following him that's about to pass my way.

by the way, I'm sweating again. (forget the updates and reporting, the intern needs to bring me some water!)

mike conley wants to go back and get his degree, he says at the main media interview station. meanwhile, here comes david... the timberwolves just selected corey brewer at 7. the gator crew is going crazy here at the theater (and there are a lot of them).

and still no players have arrived at the nba.com chat station. that's what happens when we are put at the end. remind me to talk to someone about this (oh wait, i'm not that important). good thing the players are blogging from the green room. at least i hope they are. i haven't been near a computer in hours

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From: Judd Hirsch Jr/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 08:32 PM
Subject: Re: over in the media room

they are out of potato chipsin the press workroom and i think things could get ugly if they are not refilled soon.

meanwhile, oden is one stop away from joining us for the dot.com chat and looks like he might pass out at any moment. he is still fighting the effects of that cold.

and we're getting word thet he might be furthe delayed for just a bit longer. i think there are some more people that wnat to talk to him actually, he just got a call from the trailblazers gm. the dream definitely starts here...

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 08:44 PM
Subject: Re: ouch

i just got smacked in the head with a camera trying to get near yi. it is seriously craziness right now with the throng following yi. you cannot pass by the group and they're blocking up the passageways (i should sue).

by the way, no one has heard a peep from jeff green since he's been picked? i hope he didn't get lost trying to find the media circuit space coming from the stage.

wow... the bulls just took noah (al horford just yelled "yes, yes, i knew it," startling me and causing his escort to spill her diet coke on me), generating the largest roar of the night from the crowd. by far. of course that was a knicks pick. gators fans travel well. speaking of the crowd, they are really into it now. probably the best crowd since we first started holding the draft here (in 2001).they are really into it now. the second biggest cheer of the night just went up as spencer hawes was taken at no.10. oh, and his dad is a dead ringer for tim legler, who is conspicuously absent tonight.

Meanwhile, noah is now up in the crowd (that's where espn radio is) and i love that bulls legend (i guess i'm guilty of that, too) will purdue schooling him on bulls history. iwonder if he is teaching joakim noah the bulls fight song. (actually, i wonder if there even is a is bulls fight song?). the fans lining up for noah's autograph is just crazy. probably the biggest line i've seen. it might take noah several hours to get back to the media circuit. (luckily, the fans just let me right through).

and corey brewer is our first nba.com chatter of the night... (welcome to the real party, mr. brewer). he made a reach for some of the candy we have back there, but he didn't go for it.and now we have a line out the door for guys to chat. al horford is waiting in the wings (he thought about taking some m&m's, but passed as well) and yi (+50) is lurking as well. and we have a taker as yi goes for the m&m's (but he's not a fan of the swedish fish).

the bad news is that my blackberry battery is starting to die and we're only up to the 13th pick. (uh oh).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 09:08 PM
Subject: Re: knicks trade?

espn's andy katz is back here shouting that there is a deal that's done. but he won't elaborate. that sums up just how crazy it is back here. we now have about 10 players in the circuit, another five still waiting in the green room and everyone is hinting that there are deals in the works (i wonder if these guys are ever going to see their families again). it's impossible to know who is supposed to be where and which players are going to which station.

meanwhile, waiting for oden to blow his nose again (someone get this guy a sudafed already!) and join the nba.com chat party.

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 09:19 PM
Subject: Re: they're multiplying

i think the number of people following yi right now is growing exponentially. they're like amobea (or is it paramecium? i took high school bio like 15 years ago).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 09:27 PM
Subject: Re: i want candy

after spending another 15 minutes with and around oden, i really do like this guy (almost as much as he loves our swedish fish).

oh by the way, the knicks deal is done. that andy katz... i'll tell you he'd be a good guy to have working for the cia or something.

over at the primary media interview station, the pistons newest pick, eastern washington point guard rodney stuckey is talking to a handful of reporters (there are about 300 fewer people in here than there were an hour ago when oden and durant came through). with chauncey billups now a free agent, this looks like a great pick, and he seems like a really nice, humble guy.

"i think i'm a lot like joe dumars, with our backgrounds and build and style of play, we're just similar," he said. "we're both guys with something to prove. i want to show people who I am and let everyone know that i am willing to work hard every day."

hustling back to the stage, nick young is the last player left of the 15 in the green room. check that. he was... young was just taken by the Wizards. so that should bring about an end to my trips down there, though there are still a few surprises in the crowd (as always).

speak of the devil, there goes one (always was a master of timing). marco belinelli was just taken at 18 to the Warriors. this guy really travels well, too.

by the way, still no jeff green anywhere in the media circuit. it's almost like he's disappeared completely. i'm on a mission to find him (i've just learned the rule that he can't go through the media circuit until after seattle picks again at 35 and the trade is finalized). and no brandan wright, either, come to think of it. and where is the intern? i haven't heard a peep from him in like an hour. i hope he didn't get swept up in the oden-blazers media posse. we may never see him again

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 09:48 PM
Subject: Re: hoover cleans it up

i haven't found green yet, but that's just fine. there are about 12 guys bouncing from station to station and interview to interview (it is highly entertaining watching people try and convince each other that their interview is more important than someone else's.). then in between interviews, these guys are handed cell phones to talk to radio stations around the country.

over in one corner, pistons player development guru ryan hoover is giving stuckey the rundown. the pistons are one of only a few teams that actually has a player relations guy here in new york and it is something that more teams should consider doing. he is cooly guiding his young talent through the maze and keeping things under control (and the media in check). he also has selfish reasons for being here...

"this is my first draft, so I obviosuly wanted to be here."

meanwhile, someone who wished he had a team representative to keep the media under control is joakim noah. he is getting bombarded and just wants to go home. (those pesky french camera crews.)

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 10:11 PM
Subject: Re: the durantula

greg oden liked chatting so much, he came back for more. or maybe it was just to get more swedish fish. and the fact that we have a big monitor over in the nba.com section. unfortunately we are too backed up now. (where were all these guys two hours ago?) julian wright and kevin durant are waiting to chat with fans.

so what does kevin durant have to say about playing for the young, upstart sonics?

"if we lose, we lose," he said in the chat. "i'm just hapy to be a part of the organization."

with his first paycheck, "i'm gonna buy me a car."

once the chat was done, he did say that he hopes sue bird will take care of him out in seattle. durant also confided in me that he's never had a nickname that stuck. unfortunately he was not a fan of rob peterson's "durantula" (back to the drawing board).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: noah

after about 25 interviews in french and english, joakim noah was just looking for a break (not on the biggest day of his life). but a quick chat with greg oden re-invigorated him and improved his spirits. they shared a congratulatory hug backstage as they called each other "greggy" and "joey" (glad they could put their ncaa finals rivalry behind them).

noah is excited about the great group of guys in chicago, but is probably more excited to be finished with the circuit.

"i'm heading there tomorrow and we'll see what happens," noah said. "i'm just really hyped right now."

just a few minutes later, nick young and noah debated were off in a corner privately discussing who san antonio should take with the 28th pick (they went with tiago splitter, a brazilian forward).

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 10:31 PM
Subject: Re: stuckey bowl

so i guess it's not all about the party. rodney stuckey and arron afflalo (who is here and was picked 27th by the pistons) have to be up in five hours for a flight to detroit (i'm guessing they're going to skip the afterparties).

and still no jeff green or brandan wright at the circuit... apparently they're under lock-and-key until a couple of pending trades go through (the celtics traded green to seattle, but we don't know where charlotte has dealt wright as of yet). so imagine being so excited to get drafted, then being stuck in a room for the rest of the night, waiting, waiting, waiting, and then finally having to do the media circuit. (at least they have plenty of food.)

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 10:40 PM
Subject: Re: end of round one

the good news is that the draft is half over and we're only three hours in (the sixers just selected petteri koponen with the 30th pick in the first round, who i also think may be down there in the crowd somewhere). of course, the picks will start coming in fast and furious once our man adam silver takes over.

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From: Judd Hirsch Jr/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 10:48 PM
Subject: Re: i'm home

forgot to tell you that i went home about an hour ago. good luck for the rest of the night, i'm exhausted. i don't know who you guys do it.

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 10:53 PM
Subject: Re: another trade

after getting wind of the potential trade that involved brandan wright, i found out where he and jeff green were being tucked away. so i sauntered on over to the room and was hoping to be on hand when the trade was officially announced that was sending him to golden state. thing is, when ESPN broke the news, he had no reaction (almost as if he knew already).

i'm guessing that his agent, david falk, must have gotten to him before mike tirico and the ESPN crew broke the news (by the way, mike tirico is about two inches shorter than i am. i love learning things like this.)

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/28/2007 11:28 PM
Subject: Re: last men standing

the last man in the green room was picked around two hours ago, but that doesn't mean everyone in attendance has been taken (and we're currently up to pick no. 46). we've seen belinelli, afflalo, wilson chandler (a knicks pick) and a few others in the crowd get taken and make their way through the circuit, but only a couple of unpicked player remain in the crowd (awkward).

vanderbilt swingman derrick byars was just taken by the blazers, which leaves only fresno state guard quinton hosley and a couple of internation players as the last men standing.

all around us, crews are starting to pack up (what's the hurry?). jeff green and brandan wright are talking with a few of the remaining reporters and journalists, but things are being taken down and packed up. i love how it takes a week to set up and an hour to break down.

i am hearing rumors that there have been some loose pretzel sightings over by the PR office... heading there now and then hoping to wrap things up myself.

i'm just hoping the battery in bberry lasts a few picks longer... hold on, baby!

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From: Matthew Wurst/NBA
To: Matthew Wurst/NBA
06/29/2007 12:08 AM
Subject: Re: thanks, jeff

finally... we just got a chance to talk with jeff green, who was still as upbeat and enthusiastic as he was when he was first drafted abound four hours ago. he took his whole night of sequestering in stride and is just looking forward to the opportunity to play in the nba. seattle, you're getting another good one.

and with that, it's time to give the bberry a rest and head back to the computer and type this all up.

After running around and trying to experience it all tonight, the one thing I was unable to keep track of is who actually ended up where. I guess that is what tomorrow is for (wait, it is tomorrow).

Just under five hours after the 2007 NBA Draft began, it is a new day and a new start for the 60 players who were selected. (I'm just glad I don't have to chase them around anymore.)

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