published Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Wiedmer: New Orleans Hornets' draft gain is another blow for Michael Jordan

When comparing the NCAA championship seasons of Anthony Davis and Michael Jordan, the results are something out of the Twilight Zone.

Both men wore No. 23 -- Davis at Kentucky, Jordan at North Carolina. Both won their national titles as freshmen with both crowns won inside the New Orleans Superdome, albeit 30 years apart.

And in what was widely assumed to become yet another coincidence, Davis -- a native of Chicago -- was expected to play for Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats as a professional. Jordan -- a North Carolina native -- spent most of his pro career in the Windy City, of course.

But then came Wednesday night's NBA draft lottery, and despite the woeful Bobcats holding all the mathematical advantages among those perplexing, petulant ping pong balls, the New Orleans Hornets somehow wound up with the No. 1 pick in the June 28th draft.

"Karma," said UK's Davis on ESPN after the lottery draw was completed. "I won the national championship there. I can't wait to get down there -- assuming they choose me -- and help my new teammates."

Befitting anything to do with New Orleans, there will be plenty of intrigue, suspicion and conspiracy theories in the 29 days that pass between today and the draft.

After all, the NBA not only ran the Hornets this past season until the owner of the NFL's Saints -- auto dealer Tom Benson -- bought the team, but it also blocked a trade that would have sent former Hornets point guard Chris Paul to the LA Lakers before this season began.

Fair or not, there is much distrust of NBA commissioner David Stern following that blocked trade, especially now that New Orleans has wound up with the overall No. 1 draft pick, despite the Bobcats easily having the league's worst record -- 7-59 to the Hornets' 21-45 mark.

At some point and time it might have been a good idea to not guarantee that the league's worst record would automatically earn the No. 1 draft choice -- and years such as this one do discourage tanking late-season games to lock up that top pick -- but this is also why the system is flawed.

No one needed a rare talent such as Davis more than Charlotte. Beyond that, the gap between the Uniblocker and everyone else in this draft is believed to be wide.

Now Jordan -- who has often seemed more like His Errness than His Airness since joining the Bobcats' front office -- is again about to have his hoops acumen sternly tested.

Or do you think that former first-round picks such as Adam Morrison (2006), D.J. Augustin (2008) and Gerald Henderson Jr. (2009) have endeared Jordan to those few brave souls who admit to rooting for the Bobcats? Especially when he could have had Rudy Gay or Rajon Rondo (2006). Joakim Noah (2007), Roy Hibbert or Serge Ibaka (2008) or Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Teague, Ty Lawson or Jrue Holiday (2009).

Still, Jordan had no control over Wednesday night's ping pong balls. They bounced as they bounced and the results will make it more difficult than ever for MJ to make the Bobcats growl any time soon.

As for the city of New Orleans -- still struggling to rebound from Katrina's wrath nearly seven years ago -- the NBA lottery should, as one of ESPN's talking heads joked immediately after the drawing, momentarily draw attention away from "Drew Brees and the bounty hunters."

What this draft probably won't do is dramatically change the direction of any franchise save the Hornets.

For as ESPN's Jon Barry noted, "There's one player in this draft that changes the course of a franchise and that's Anthony Davis."

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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