The Washington Post

Wizards fans don’t have a reason to watch NBA draft lottery for a change

It’s just the Wizards’ luck that they don’t have any Ping Pong balls in the hopper for Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery, which will determine the order of the top 14 picks for one of the most loaded NBA drafts in recent history.

Really, though, I’m not upset. I’d take playoff basketball over an outside shot at landing the potential next big thing every year, even with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker in this year’s class. There’s no such thing as a can’t-miss prospect.

I started to compile past clips from Washington’s mostly dismal NBA draft lottery history — drawing the No. 1 pick and John Wall in 2010 was one of the few bright spots — before Dan reminded me that he’s already been down that depressing road. (Dan has no memory of a lot of the posts he’s written, so this one, from May 2010, must’ve been especially scarring.)

There’s an additional story I found by former Post staff writer Len Hochberg from the week leading up to the 1994 draft lottery that’s worth a few laughs. Maybe read this instead of watching on Tuesday night.

“HELP US GET LUCKY,” the sign screams.

No, it’s not a cry from some overzealous frat house. It’s just a plea from your friendly neighborhood basketball team.

The Washington Bullets, who have had less luck in the National Basketball Association lottery than the average person has had in the daily lottery, have taken a bold step to change all that.

Perched on the terrace of Duke Zeibert’s restaurant overlooking Connecticut Avenue, Hoops, the Bullets’ mascot (whose real name is Brian Devir), set up shop Tuesday afternoon and has vowed not to leave until he collects 1,000 lucky charms.

The NBA lottery is Sunday afternoon, and the Bullets have 94 of the 1,000 chances (hence the 1,000 lucky charms) to secure the top pick in the June 29 draft.

As of late yesterday afternoon, Hoops had collected “about 300″ lucky charms, according to Maureen Lewis, the Bullets’ assistant director of public relations.

Team owner Abe Pollin contributed “The Fat Lady Sings for the Bullets,” an album recapping their 1977-78 championship season. Forward Tom Gugliotta offered the sneakers he wore in his first Bullets game. Forward Don MacLean gave Hoops his NBA most improved player award, which he won on Tuesday (“But he said he wants it back,” Hoops said).

Larry King, during his daily lunchtime pilgrimage to Duke’s, stepped onto the terrace yesterday — sans lucky charm. But, Hoops said, King would be by today with gift in tow.

Hoops is equipped with a tent, sleeping bag, lounge chair, TV, radio and umbrella. The Bullets guard him around the clock, with staff members rotating in four shifts. He gets breakfast, lunch and dinner at Duke’s, and “he likes to eat,” according to Harold Reid, the maitre d’. “We make sure he’s properly fed.”

Hoops gets full use of the facilities, although the restaurant does not have a shower. “That’s a problem,” Reid said. “I don’t know how he’s doing with that one.”

To get the lucky charms, Hoops lowers a metal pail from the 35-foot-high terrace. One man, Howard Moore, contributed a dime, but it’s “from 1972, the year Grant Hill was born,” Moore said.

Sue Hanig gave Hoops one of her wedding invitations. Is that good luck? “We’re hoping,” said Hanig of the July 9 nuptial.

Another man said he’d help the Bullets “if I don’t have to give money.” Assured money was not wanted, he dropped his business card in the pail, because “it brought me luck with the ladies.”

Which brings us to a potential problem. Hoops is averaging 250 charms a day; right now, the goal of 1,000 lucky charms won’t be reached till Saturday. But Hoops’s girlfriend graduates on Friday and, he said, “I’d like to go.”


So did Hoops change the Bullets’ luck? Not exactly.

“The Washington Bullets’ best worst-case scenario played out in the National Basketball Association draft lottery today,” The Post’s Ken Denlinger wrote. “They wanted at least the fifth pick — and that’s exactly what this 10th annual process produced.”

With the fifth pick in the 1994 NBA draft, the Bullets selected Juwan Howard.

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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