Ladies and gentlemen and kids of all ages, please take your seats because the show is about to begin.

Hi, I'm Pat Sajak, a decent sort of guy, and I'll be your host on Sunday afternoon, live, from the Starlight Roof of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, when the National Basketball Association presents the very latest in high anxiety: the lottery.

Seven Tries for Seven Losers.

We've got a great show planned for you, I must say. We've got representatives from each of the teams that made the lottery because of how they woofed their way through this season: Atlanta, Indiana, Golden State, New York, Sacramento, Seattle and the Los Angeles Clippers. The representatives all will be strapped into dunking stools and at an appropriate time -- when their team is eliminated from the chase for the No. 1 pick -- I'll spin the wheel and they will be catapulted under water.

We've also got a feature called "Great Moments in Coin Flip History." We'll see videotape from the 1969 flip, when Phoenix called "heads" and the coin came up "tails." Milwaukee chose Lew Alcindor, who would become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Phoenix got Neal Walk, who would become dunk bait. We'll also see film from the 1972 flip, when Portland correctly called "tails" and used the first choice to get LaRue Martin, who might be playing still if it weren't for the fact that he couldn't play at all. It's a shame Portland isn't eligible for this lottery, just to add some suspense to the top pick; the Trail Blazers might have gone for Patrick Duffy, you know?

We've also got a piece called "Lottery Legends," with rare footage from the Dec. 1, 1969 Vietnam Draft Lottery. Now that was a lottery. You sure didn't see too many underclassmen coming out early for that one.

Later on we'll have an exclusive interview with Patrick Ewing that we taped earlier in the week. We asked him for his thoughts about the lottery, and well, why don't we run just a small clip from that interview.

Pat: Isn't it a coincidence that we both have the same name? I'm going mental. So, big fella, it all comes down to this, your future's in the hands of a real decent guy like me and a fishbowl. What do you think about the lottery?

Patrick: Would you repeat the question?

Pat: What do you think about the lottery?

Patrick: I do not wish to discuss it.

Plenty more where that came from. Stay tuned.

By the way, so you don't think we've been asleep at the switch, we've heard those rumors about what might happen if Patrick ends up in Seattle. Should that occur, we will be preempting our regularly scheduled prime time lineup to show you the three-hour special, "John Thompson's Seattle," with special guest stars Lenny Wilkens, Bill Russell and Mary Fenlon.

Okay, now right about here I was supposed to bring out someone from the NBA who'd tell you why the league deliberately took such a serious, businesslike approach to the lottery, not treating it like a circus. But their top brass are all backstage being fitted into their clown suits, so I'll go ahead with the program.

I'd like to introduce the 10 players most likely to follow Patrick Ewing in the draft: Wayman Tisdale, Benoit Benjamin, Jon Koncak, Detlef Schrempf -- that's German for "Larry Bird" -- Xavier McDaniel, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Keith Lee, Ed Pinckney and Joe Kleine. For your listening and dancing pleasure they'll be competing in swimsuit and evening gown categories. Should Patrick be unable to fulfill his duties as the No. 1 pick for any reason -- should he "Vanessa" himself as we say in the trade -- the judges will select one of these 10 to take his place and serve out the remainder of his contract.

Are the NBA execs ready yet?

What? Their plastic noses keep falling off?

Okay, let's move on then to the people we've invited to draw the envelopes that NBA Commissioner David Stern will later open on national TV. In accordance with the NBA's desire to keep a sedate, buttoned-down tone during the proceedings we've invited the following people to participate in this ceremony: Bob Barker! Come on down. David Lee Roth! Come on down. Roxanne Pulitzer! Dick Vitale! Liberace! Cyndi Lauper! Come on down. And Richard Dawson! Stand up and give me a kiss on the lips, you savage.

I think we're almost ready for the national anthem. You know you can't have a sporting event without the national anthem. Who better to sing it under these conditions than Bert Parks? I know I'm speaking for the NBA brass -- who'd be out here speaking for themselves if only they could walk in those enormous shoes that go with their clown suits -- when I say that we certainly didn't intend for this to be perceived as a circus, and it was only at the last moment when we decided that the best person to carry the flag would be Gunther Gebel-Williams, standing on a lion, who was standing on an elephant, who was standing wherever he wants, as long as it wasn't on me.

I've just been told that the NBA execs have drawn the line on wearing red fright wigs, so Ronald McDonald will be opening the envelopes.

So cue Gunther. And cue Bert. Cue Hubie Brown; he'll be handling the foreign language broadcast and the remote to Mars, where they understand him perfectly. And cue Mary Lou Retton. I'm sure she's here, because she's everywhere.

I'd like to wish each team the best of luck. But I've got to admit that I'm rooting for Sacramento. I know how long they've waited for an NBA champion.