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Wizards Will Regret Missing Out on Rubio
Just like another NBA event wasn't foremost on everybody's minds June 12, 1994, either, the night that Al Cowlings and O.J. Simpson were in that white Ford Bronco, speeding south on the 405 straight into our collective consciousness . . . forever.
It comes up because the NBA had to share that night, too, with bizarre news of a different nature. It was Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Rockets and Knicks. And there was the big screen in the Garden split between basketball and the white Ford Bronco being chased by police. No, the death of Michael Jackson wasn't scandalous, but it was another New York basketball night that got pushed to the back burner for so many people.
Back in '94 we still learned stuff, no matter how important, by word of mouth. If you had a cellphone, you didn't necessarily have it on you at all times. Even if you did, it didn't have Internet access. Even if you had a cellphone it didn't get instant news alerts. The draftees, who have no knowledge of word of mouth, had their cellphones on their ears, their eyes so wide it looked as if they'd been glued open.
"I can't believe the news about Michael Jackson," is what Curry said to me more than an hour before the draft began. "My agent just called me . . . "
All around Curry the same scene was playing out. "Did you hear?" Keep in mind, Michael Jackson was so done by the time any of them were born. Let's say Jackson's best year was 1983, the year after "Thriller," the best-selling album in history, was released. Michael Jordan wasn't even in the NBA then. Michael Jackson, to Steph Curry or Blake Griffin, is like Babe Ruth or Muhammad Ali or Frank Sinatra or Marvin Gaye. He's the History Channel. But he was also the weirdest, most famous man on the planet and they all knew that.
So draft night was different in that sense, different, too, in some insignificant ways, like the way the draftees dress so conservatively now, the way they were so understated and business like.
My favorite is James Harden. The Arizona State swingman is the single best dressed player to ever walk across the draft stage and shake Commissioner David Stern's hand on draft night. Beige slacks, perhaps Super 120s, vest, smart two-button blazer that had just a little olive to provide a contrast with the slacks/vest and looked like it might have been, oh, silk and bamboo, topped of by a bow-tie with coordinated pocket square. Best-dressed college athlete I've ever seen. Ever.
It kinda matters on draft night, what you look like, where you're going, who's starting over in someplace new, like Shaq or Amare. The Cavaliers will be better off, as will the Warriors, who know what they're getting. Not that it will be easy incorporating men as demanding as Shaq and Amare. But the men who put the fun in draft night will put the fun into the early weeks of the regular season as well. The Wizards, if they're up to it, should feel free to join.