Babby Fine With Lottery Outcome, Ready for Draft

Lon Babby
President Lon Babby represented the Suns in the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery.
NBAE/Getty Images
By Greg Esposito,
Posted: May 21, 2013

As President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby sat at a French cafe just feet away from the ABC Times Square studios after the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, he looked as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. It was clear he had just been through an event that was as stressful for him as any overtime contest is for one of the many players he’s helped sign over the years.

While making phone calls to Managing Partner Robert Sarver and General Manager Ryan McDonough to talk about the night’s results, you could sense the relief in his voice. See, Babby is used to living by what he calls the “Five Ps” that consist of preparation, poise, perseverance, pride and performance. This precisely selected list of qualities will guide the franchise’s reemergence but aren’t exactly conducive to leaving things up to pure chance. Which is exactly the premise of anything with the moniker of lottery.

As just a passive observer sitting in the front row 20-feet away from all of the team representatives and well behind the bright lights and cameras of a national television audience, my pulse raced as Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver revealed cards with teams logos on it. As each of the first nine cards were removed from their smooth white enclosures without the Suns appearing, my nerves began to fray a little more. By the time the fifth pick came around my hands were shaking in anticipation. But, to his credit, Babby remained poised externally like his mantra suggested. He never let on how unnatural internally it was for him to leave everything up to luck.

“You’re just sitting there waiting for someone to tell you what your fate is and you have absolutely no say in it,” Babby said in the studio immediately after the telecast. “The outcome is fine. The way I’m looking at it is we get the first pick in the Western Conference.”

It’s true, the outcome is more than fine as the team will get to select before any of their rivals in the west and as the Rolling Stones said, “No, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.”

In a draft that experts feel has a lot of talented young men, but no clear cut star, being in the fifth spot may be just what a franchise committed to building through the draft needs. With three picks in the 2013 draft and seven more coming over the next two offseasons, this year’s selection is one part of a much larger plan to get younger and more talented.

Now with the Lottery in the rear-view mirror, Babby and his basketball operations staff can return to something they are all more comfortable with. They can prepare for the draft and impending free agency with each of Lon’s Ps in mind and he has the utmost confidence that his staff will make their own luck when they return to New York in June.

“Now Ryan McDonough and his staff will do their work,” Babby said. “They’ll make a brilliant choice. I know they will.”

Nerves are a forgone conclusion in a situation you have no control over. But confidence comes when you know you’ve done everything to prepare and are confident in the people you’ve put in positions of power. For as much as Babby may have been nervous for the Draft Lottery, he trusts his basketball operations staff to make the best selection with the No. 5 draft pick he brings home to the Valley with him.