That moment is still as clear and surreal as ever.
One of the many great things about having a birthday, graduation, or a promotion at work is receiving congratulatory notes from friends and family. Last Tuesday was one of those days for me even though I did not just have another child, graduate from anywhere or get promoted at work. I also did not win the lottery, which surely would have led to many calls and emails asking to borrow money. But instead of me winning the lottery, my favorite team did. So many people reached out to me that I began to think maybe I did win the lottery. Even though none of them were Spurs fans, people were so happy that I was happy that it made me even happier.
Like other Spurs fans, I watched the Pulling of the Envelopes on Tuesday night. Each pull of a non-Spurs envelope increased the Spurs’ odds of having the French Connection. The first picks did not increase those odds very much — from 14% to 15% to 17% to 19% etc. But as we got down the last 5 or 6 envelopes, the odds started increasing exponentially. When fellow Bottom Three contender Detroit “won” the fifth pick followed by the Rockets at fourth, that eliminated two serious contenders. And when Portland slipped into the third pick, the Spurs and Hornets both had a 50% chance.
At that moment, they should have stopped the process and asked the representative of each team up on stage like they do for Miss America when they are down to the final two contestants. Those two contestants, here Miss Texas (Spurs) and Miss North Carolina (Hornets) would stand up there hugging, giggling and crying until the announcer names the “First Runner-Up” who will have to serve if the winner is revealed to have some weird and disqualifying story from her past.
Here, the Spurs representative Peter J. Holt would stand up there on stage with Charlotte Hornets’ young center Mark Williams. Ironically, Williams may have lost his job if the Hornets got the number one pick, which made him an odd choice by Charlotte — though fairly typical for the dysfunctional franchise. This may have been the first time that the representatives of both teams were happy when they announced which team got the number one pick.
And I was happy too. Almost immediately, I received a phone call from my buddy and fellow hooper Steve. I think Steve just wanted to hear my voice and absorb some of my excitement over the phone through osmosis.
The texts started rolling in too. One of my ex-players sent this:
Will history repeat itself with Wemby?
Others commented on my April Fool’s Day column which “announced” that the Spurs had executed a “sign and trade” to obtain Victor Wembanyama, one friend even calling me “Nostradomus-like”. Another asked this:
“Coach, how did you get the entire media to go along with your April Fools gag?”
A friend from college told me that he was expecting a “joyous column” about the lottery win. Hey Jamie: This is it!
A friend from Texas, though a Mavs fan, said he read somewhere that the Spurs need the draft/lottery to work out for them to get a Robinson or Duncan or Wembanyama from time to time, because San Antonio hasn’t been able to attract a good free agent since Davy Crockett in 1836. He obviously forgot about LaMarcus Aldridge. And Richard Jefferson.
My college roommate asked this question, which I hope was meant to be a joke:
“Does Pop know how to coach big men?”
It appears that Pop may have already flown to France to watch a basketball game. Which reminds me — I am assuming that the Great Tim Duncan may be spending some time this summer with the forthcoming number one pick in the draft. Unless of course, the Spurs choose Scoot Henderson instead. (Yes, that was a joke.)
The consistent message I have received, and what I am hearing around the league, is that the NBA family is pleased that this great young talent will wind up in a quality organization. One of the best summaries came from my pandemic buddy Daniel, whom I met while shooting on outside courts when that was the only place either of us could do so:
“It’s like Adam Silver and the basketball god said this had to happen. They are giving him his best chance to reach his potential. What other franchise would they have entrusted Victor to from a long-time culture and stability standpoint? Miami probably and maybe the Ws (Warriors) are the only other ones. Frankly, every other franchise would just screw it up.”
Final question for readers: When they pulled out the Hornets envelope out last Tuesday, was that the best moment in Spurs history since this play?
Maybe this one is in the running: