The Luckiest Man in the Room
Posted May 23 2007 10:45AM
SECAUCUS, N.J., May 22, 2007 -- Brandon Roy started his Tuesday by buying a house and ended it by bringing the Portland Trail Blazers something that money can’t buy – the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery.
“I put an offer in this morning on a house and I was waiting all day on the response and my business manager called and said, ‘They accepted.’ I was like, ‘It’s that easy? We don’t have to offer them more money?’ But they settled on it and I was like, ‘Man, this is going to be a good day.’”
It turned out to be a great day.
Portland had just a 5.3 percent chance of winning the top pick overall. For reference sake, you have about a 3.2 percent chance of landing on Illinois Avenue during a game of Monopoly .
As NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver revealed picks Nos. 14 through 7 from the podium, everything went like a chalk NCAA Tournament bracket. But then the Bucks, who statistically had the third-best chance of the No. 1 pick, got the No. 6 envelope and it was a whole new ball game.
“I began to get nervous. Before that I thought we’d finish in the top 10, or the top five or six, but when I realized that we really have a chance at a top pick, I was excited," a beaming Roy said in the NBA TV Studio after the broadcast of the lottery was over.
"I was like, ‘Man, who can we take?’” I started thinking about playing with Greg Oden, I started thinking about Kevin Durant and I was like, ‘Man!’ We have a great young team and I’m excited to go out with this team.
“Honestly, I was standing up there with Lenny Wilkens and I was like, ‘I didn’t expect to win this.’”
It came down to Dominique Wilkins of the Hawks, Wilkens of the Sonics and Roy of the Blazers.
11.9 percent vs. 8.8 percent vs. 5.3 percent.
And 5.3 percent won.
Roy brought no good luck charm. No rabbit's foot or shamrock or golf trophy (like the one Jerry West sheepishly took off his desk and hid down by his feet after Silver announced the Grizzlies were getting the fourth pick when they statistically had the best chance of getting No. 1).
"I didn’t have one," Roy said. "Everybody said I need to make up something, but I was like, ‘Nah,’ because that wouldn’t be me. I didn’t have a good luck charm and I didn’t want to start off today with one. I came out here just being myself and it worked for me.
“The balls bounce the way they do. I can’t say that it was luck, I didn’t bring anything that was lucky, maybe I’m just a little lucky.”
Actually, Roy did bring something. Well, he brought somebody. His older brother by 23 months, Edward, made the cross-country trip with him.
“When they said the top three, I looked back and [Edward] said, ‘I might be your good luck charm,’ and I said, ‘You might be.’ Hopefully I got to keep him closer to me now.”
That shouldn’t be a problem. Edward lives just about a two-and-a-half hour drive away from Brandon up in Seattle, or should I say, the land of No. 2.
“We was talking about it this morning and he didn’t think they could get it and I was like, ‘I think y’all might get the No. 1 pick,’” Edward said.
Too bad Brandon decided to go without a tie to complement his sand-colored shirt and black pinstripe suit or he’d automatically have a lucky accessory for the rest of his days (when his brother isn't available).
After Roy answered questions, he was photographed holding a Trail Blazers jersey with a big No. 1 on the back and a Portland draft-themed basketball.
As Roy mugged for the popping flashbulbs, Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard showed up at the studio after being sequestered in the room where the actual ping-pong balls were selected about an hour earlier. Pritchard went up to Roy and thanked him with the same vigor and delight that a kid has when thanking his parents for getting him just what he wanted on Christmas morning.
Now that Pritchard had the pick, naturally everybody wanted to know what he was going to do with it.
“I don’t think this is a slam-dunk deal," the GM said. "I want to make sure we do what’s right for the organization and because of that, you got to go through your process.
"We met as a staff last week and one of the things we talked about was, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have THE debate (between Oden and Durant)? Wouldn’t it be nice?’
"And now we get to have that debate."
Pritchard said he found himself quoting the scene in Dumb & Dumber when Lloyd Christmas isn’t deterred in his pursuit of Mary Swanson in the days leading up to the lottery:
Lloyd: What are the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together?
What started out as just a free first-class trip that would require Roy to do little more than smile for the cameras and hang out with fellow soon-to-be sophomore (and Minnesota lottery representative) Randy Foye to earn it, ended up being a lot of work for Roy as he continued to make his way through the media circuit.
When NBA TV’s Rick Kamla asked the reigning Rookie of the Year what the chances of Portland sporting back-to-back Eddie Gottlieb Award winners now that Durant or Oden would probably be added to the fold, Roy was quick to point out that it’s happened before for the Trail Blazers.
Portland's Geoff Petrie and Dave Cowens of the Celtics were co-winners after the 1970-71 season and Sidney Wicks made it two in a row for the Trail Blazers in ’71-72.
When a reporter asked Roy to play GM for a just day and choose between Durant or Oden, Brandon left it up to Pritchard.
“It’s a really tough choice and I think that’s why you don’t play GM for a day," he said. "You really have to sit back and look at both players really well and it’s really a tough decision to make right now and I’m just happy that I don’t have to make it."
Roy was whisked away for radio interviews with ESPN and NBA Radio and ended his night in Ahmad Rashad's dressing room (where there is a autographed photo of the commissioner framed on Ahmad's desk that reads, "To My Id
The Roys sat on the leather couch in the corner of the room underneath the picture of Ahmad with his right arm around Kobe and his left around Michael Jordan. Brandon started bouncing the special lottery basketball between his legs as he waited for Pritchard to arrive so the call could start.
Brandon's team, the Blazers were getting the No. 1 pick, and his brother's favorite team, the Sonics, landed No. 2.
It was a win-win for the brothers.
"Somebody's getting some TNT games now," exclaimed Roy, adding that his Blazers and his brother's Sonics didn't have any nationally televised games last season.
"That's four games a year on TNT right there," Roy continued, noting how Portland and Seattle are Northwest Division rivals and thus are required to play each other four times.
The brothers sent a few texts and answered a few calls on their cell phones while blankly staring at the Spurs-Jazz playoff game that was playing on the 42-inch flat screen on the wall across from them. Maybe they were thinking that it might not be long before their teams would be the ones playing in May.
Pritchard finally arrived and conducted the conference call, revealing that the winning ping-pong ball combination was 5-9-14-13 for the Blazers, quantifying how huge getting the No. 1 pick was by calling it "bigger than the Rose Garden," and still not tipping his hand towards Oden or Durant . When the call was over, Roy and Pritchard had some final business to attend to.
The GM let his young star keep the jersey and the ball, but Pritchard was taking home the winning evelope.
With that, Brandon's responsibilities for the day were done. He was headed back to his hotel so he could get some sleep before heading out on a 6:45 a.m. flight, a flight onto which he would take that Trail Blazers jersey with a big No. 1 on the back as his carry-on item; a flight that would take him to his new home in Portland.
Not bad for a day's work.