Jim Pitman: The Suns Lucky Charm at the NBA Draft Lottery
“We had to have one of the four numbers be a one. That was our only chance of winning.”
While there may have only been a 20-second delay before the final number was announced, for Phoenix Suns’ Jim Pitman last year, it felt like forever.
“It was a little surreal,” Pitman said about sitting in the back room as the numbers were drawn for the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery. “I had never done it before… It was exciting, nerve-racking, saw a whole wide range of emotions in there.”
About an hour before the NBA Draft Lottery airs on television, one representative from each of the 14 teams are seated in a secured and confidential room where the actual drawing takes place. As for Pitman, this was a new experience for him.
Prior to last year, the Suns had little luck in the Draft Lottery with not a single first overall pick in the previous 50 years as a franchise, but all that changed when Suns managing partner Robert Sarver decided to go in a different direction in who would represent the team.
Pitman fills many roles for the organization as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, but his title of General Manager of the Phoenix Mercury may have been the ultimate decision-maker for him to become the Suns representative. Three times in the Mercury’s first 18 seasons, Pitman was able to secure the first overall pick selecting two of the greatest to ever play in Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.
His luck seemed to have transferred over from the Mercury to the Suns as last year could not have gone better for the Phoenix franchise.
“The way the number combinations work, we had to have one of the four numbers be a one,” Pitman said. “That was our only chance of winning. The first numbers were 9, 12 and 6. At that point there are 11 balls left in the hopper and we needed the one to come up and it did. That was the longest 20 seconds of my life.”
While Pitman may have only responded with a fist pump and a smirk on the outside, a whirlwind of emotions was taking place on the inside.
“It’s so exciting, but you don’t want to overreact either in front of the others who didn’t win,” Pitman said. “So, trying to stay cool, it was really exciting.”
His luck didn’t stop there though as a Suns number combination was drawn two more times after that and, although it does not count, Pitman thinks it should have.
“We should have had all three picks,” Pitman said with a smile. “But you only get to win once. The number one came up two of the next three times. Once that happened, they had to redraw again.”
His nerves were settled. The Suns were slotted with the first overall pick. The only thing left to do was tell someone, but with no cell phone or any form of communication allowed in the room, Pitman was stuck waiting to deliver the news.
“It was probably a good hour before the show started and probably an hour and fifteen minutes before they actually revealed anything,” Pitman said. “Knowing that we won, it was the easiest hour and fifteen minutes for me. Of course, I wanted to be telling people, but I knew how it was going to turn out, so I felt pretty good about that.”
Fast-forward to this year, Pitman will be returning as the Suns representative as he looks to bring back the number one pick yet again. As for superstitions, Pitman has yet to decide how much he’s going to play into them.
“I’m typically not a superstitious person,” Pitman said. “I have been told I should wear the same suit, the same tie. I’m not doing the same travel pattern. I won’t be sitting in the same seat because last year we had the best chance, so we sat in seat number one. Now, even though we have the same amount of balls as New York and Cleveland, I’ll be sitting in the third seat.“
While he may not be following last year’s itinerary to a T, he is planning to bring back a couple of his good luck charms from last year.
“I asked Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, who were previous first overall picks of our organization, to give me something to take with and they did,” Pitman said. “I still have them actually. I never gave them back. I’ll probably keep those things with me again.”
The NBA Draft Lottery may be happening with Pitman in Chicago, but the festivities will be continuing back here in Phoenix and multiple viewing parties at Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers throughout The Valley.
Suns Draft Lottery Party:
4:00 PM – May 14, 2019 – Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers
Arcadia: 3950 E. Indian School Rd. #150 Phoenix AZ, 85018
Gilbert: 4604 S. Higley Rd. #103 Gilbert, AZ 85297
Glendale: 6718 W. Deer Valley Rd. Glendale, AZ 85310
Paradise Valley: 4731 E. Cactus Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85032