SECAUCUS, N.J., May 20, 2008 About an hour before any member of the Chicago Bulls organization knew that their franchise beat the odds to nab the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, a member of the Chicago Blackhawks' public relations staff found out first.

Brandon Faber's last day with the Bulls as coordinator of public and media relations is this Friday. As a "last hurrah" before moving on to become a director of PR for the Windy City's NHL team, Faber agreed to represent Chi-town's NBA team in conference room 3A, for the official drawing of the Lottery ping pong balls.

The ping pongs are selected at 7 p.m., while the ESPN telecast announcing the draft order doesn't occur until around 8:15 p.m.

If someone were to give an MTV Cribs style tour of the NBAE complex, when they open up the door to 3A it would be time to drop the token, "This is where the magic happens" line.

"Magic" is about the only way to describe how a team like the Bulls, slated to get the No. 9 pick based on the team's 33-49 regular season record, could end up with the Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose debate on their shoulders.

Chicago only had 17 out of the 1,001 possible combinations to try to get the No. 1 pick. Meaning that, by the numbers, the Bulls had a measly 1.7 percent chance of getting Rose or Beasley. (See sidebar, Lottery Room Facts, for further explanation).

LOTTERY ROOM FACTS
  • The lottery determines the top three picks, with the remaining teams picking in inverse order of their regular season records.
  • There are 14 certified, weighted and sized white balls numbered one through 14.
  • The 14 ping-pong balls are deposited into the machine and allowed to tumble for exactly 20 seconds, at which point the first ball will be extracted. Subsequent balls will be withdrawn every 10 seconds repeatedly until four balls have been removed.
  • For the purposes of the lottery, the order the balls are drawn has no bearing on the result, thus 1, 2, 3, 4 is the exact same as 4, 3, 2, 1.
  • In the event the machine breaks down, there is a second machine in an adjacent room. In the event both machines break down, there is a power failure or another unforeseeable event, the balls will be drawn manually from a basketball which has been lopped in half.
  • If more than one ball pops out of the machine at any one time, only the first ball will be official and any others will be returned to the tumbler.
  • Four balls are selected to represent one combination. There are 1,001 possible combinations. Each team is assigned a certain number of combinations based on how few amount of wins it had in the regular season. One thousand combinations are doled out, the 1,001st combination, 11-12-13-14, is not assigned to a team.
  • This year's lottery chances: Miami (250), Seattle (199), Minnesota (138), Memphis (137), New York (76), L.A. Clippers (75), Milwaukee (43), Charlotte (28), Chicago (17), New Jersey (11), Indiana (8), Sacramento (7), Portland (6), Golden State (5).
  • Only two times since 1991 has the team with the most chances landed the top pick (Cleveland in 2003 and Orlando in 2004).
  • The Bulls became the biggest longshot in the weighted Lottery era to be awarded with the No. 1 spot, replacing the 2000 Nets as the luckiest team around.

    "We always send someone from our PR staff and it was just decided that it was my turn," a pleasantly surprised Faber said after the results were official. "It's really exciting for us and I can't wait to share the news with the Bulls."

    The winning combination of ping pong ball numbers was 119713.

    "The last time I was here was three years ago and we got third and ended up drafting Ben Gordon," Faber said. "That time it happened so fast that when we got third, I didn't even know. They started writing [the Draft order] on the board and said, 'Chicago, you got third.' This time I was actually following it.

    "I followed the numbers as they were drawn and I'm like, 'OK, we got that one ...' and I'm looking at it like, 'Is this really happening?'

    "And the next one came, and the next one came and I was like, 'Well, if this is 13 ...' and it was. And we won."

    Lucky number 13 for a change.

    Faber hails from Ohio and brought one of his home state's famous buckeyes in his pocket for good luck, along with pictures of his family. Other charms brandished by the men in the room included a Miami Heat 2006 championship ring (with the inscription "It was our time" on the inside of the band) worn by Heat Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Andy Elisburg and a teddy bear (wearing a Grizzlies No. 00 jersey and holding a mini version "new" ball that was introduced at the start of the 2006-07 season and quickly kiboshed) toted by Memphis General Manager Chris Wallace.

    Elisburg's ring might not have brought Miami enough luck to get No. 1, but it was enough to get No. 2.

    The Heat's winning combination was 111137.

    "When one came up, I said, 'OK, one's good,'" Elisburg recalled. "When 11 and 13 came up, I thought, 'OK it's a little scarier' because I was close but I knew I needed a low number going into the last one.

    "So when it went seven I was right at the cusp. Seven, I get in. I think, eight, I don't."

    As for Wallace's stuffed animal with the ominous jersey number and failed ball choice? It didn't treat him quite as well. Statistically the Grizzlies had the third best shot at the No. 1 pick after Miami and Seattle, but Memphis ended the night with the No. 5 pick.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves elected not to have a representative in the conference room, but were served well by Assistant General Manager Fred Hoiberg on stage. Hoiberg had a teddy bear as well, belonging to a child that has the same heart condition that the former long-range gunner has.

    The bear did the trick for the Wolves, as they head back to the Midwest with the No. 3 pick.

    But, back to the Bulls.

    When the 14 balls were placed in the tumbler and the machine was turned on, a faint "whirrrrr," like the sound of a vacuum, filled the room while the rest of noise from side conversations was sucked out of the air.


    The ping pong balls arrive.
    Jesse D. Garrbrant/NBAE/Getty Images
    After the first four balls were selected and Jamin Dershowitz, WNBA general counsel, announced to the room that Chicago had won, the silence was broken by a few gasps and murmurs.

    Faber simply smiled and let out a very reserved, "We'll take it." The winners rarely let their emotions show at these things. You don't want to rub your good good luck into others' misfortunes and then have to call them up to try to make a trade somewhere down the line.

    After the Bulls got No. 1 it didn't take much longer than more than a couple more minutes for the Heat to get No. 2 and the Timberwolves to get No. 3.

    Then, the waiting began.

    Before the drawing started, every team representative in the room, as well as media members and other NBA personnel in attendance, had to surrender their electronic devices to security in the room so that the news of the draft order wasn't leaked before the TV broadcast.

    Dershowitz joked, half seriously, for everybody in attendance to "put all your BlackBerries, cell phones, signal flares, anything you got" into the large manilla envelopes by the front door of the room.

    With no e-mails to write or texts to return, there was nothing to do but chat and eat and watch ESPN on the flat screen at the front of the room -- that's exactly what they did.


    The tumbler.
    Jesse D. Garrbrant/NBAE/Getty Images
    Members of the Pacers, Bobcats and Bulls PR staffs shared Michael Jordan stories.

    Trail Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard pored over the six combinations his team had that weren't called out.

    Sacramento Kings limited partner John Kehriotis buried his nose in a book, Night Fall by Nelson DeMille.

    Wallace watched his former team, the Boston Celtics, prepare for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on TV.

    I asked him, even though he's with Memphis now, is it nice to see his former franchise still playing at the end of May?

    "I'm rooting hard for them," he said with a smile.

    But, you can't really enjoy tonight, no matter how well they're playing, can you?

    "No, I can't," Wallace added with a pained laugh.

    The waiting wasn't nearly as hard for a Lottery night winner.

    "We're looking forward to getting ready for it," Elisburg said, referring to the 2008 NBA Draft that takes place on June 26 at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden. "Now we know where we are, and now the process to get ready will begin."