Thunder Broadcaster Long Recalls His Draft Night Memory
The year 1988 was life-changing for Grant Long. The Mid-American Conference player of the year had just guided Eastern Michigan University to its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. On the night of June 28, 1988, he was ready to take the next step in his life: the NBA.
The Long family house in Romulus, MI, didn't have cable TV to watch the draft that night on TBS (remember the Super Station?) So, while his family waited at home, Grant went next door to watch on a neighbor's TV. Hoping to be a first-round pick, he watched as 25 other names were announced and the first round ended without his name being called.
"I felt like I should have been a first-round pick. I went home and was sitting there at my house, down and depressed. There was cake and everybody was asking what happened? Then, the phone rang. It was the Miami Heat telling me they had selected me in the second round, the 33rd pick," Long said.
"I've got to tell you that disappointment immediately went away and there was elation. The fact that they called me and said we want you on our team," he said. "It was just like Commissioner Stern had called my name. It was a huge celebration. It turned into a party after all."
Long says draft night can be nervous for players, but it shouldn't be. He advises them to soak up the experience as they realize their dream.
"There is nothing more you can do. You've worked out for the teams, just sit back and absorb everything that's going on. Players tend to be so fixated in the moment, but at that point, you can’t control anything. Just enjoy it. You don't want to look back and say I was riddled with nervousness. You want to look back and say this was one of the best moments of my life. "
Long went on to play 15 seasons as a power forward in the NBA, more than 1,000 games. He now is part of the Thunder Broadcast team.
FACT: The same night Long was drafted, now-Thunder assistant coach Mark Bryant was chosen in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers as the 21st overall pick. Bryant had just wrapped up a stellar college career with Seton Hall where he also led his team to its first-ever NCAA Tournament. Bryant went on to play 15 years in the NBA.