Don't you just love the NBA draft? I know; I probably love it more than some because I adore pro-basketball so much, but it is, afterall, the funnest draft around. And that is for a number of reasons.
First it is because for the last 18 years it has been on TNT (or some dirivitive thereof). Ted Turners networks just do things in a different way; a way that appeals to me. That is, of course, except the advertisements. There are way too many of those considering I am paying to see the programming.
They always have interesting people analyzing the draft and statements that border on near lunacy are often mumbled by the panel.
Don't you just love it when the draft someone that the experts didn't expect and they don't even have a picture of the guy, much less video tape and stats?
But the best part of the show is always Charles Barkley. You just can beat him for saying what he thinks at both the right and wrong times.He doesn't worry what anyone thinks about him. I mean why should he. He's big and tough, he has money and his basketball career is over. He's been arrested for assault a couple of times, although maybe the people he assaulted actually deserved it.
With his sense of humor and honesty about what he sees he could easily take over for Jay Leno when the well known comedian on The Tonight Show. In fact I am going to e-mail Leno and tell him to stop running recent reruns when he takes a week off and put Charles on to replace him. That would truly be interesting.
Anyway, the farther the program got into the draft on Wednesday night the more honest Barkley became. Sometimes shockingly so.
He was the only one from the beginning that was down on the selection of Yao Ming. His question about the 7'5" player from China was a very viable one. How is Rudy Tomjonovich and his team mates going to communicate with him in an end of game huddle? In fact, the team also drafted Bostian Nachbar from Sovenia as well. I can just see point guard Steve Francis yelling out plays in three languages when he comes down the floor.
Then came the tirade against the college "farm system" for the development of basketball players. He called the college system corupt and said colleges gain so much from the kids, yet they fail to graduate most of them. He came right out and called the institutions of higher learning "crooks."
The reaction of the other panelists, which included Kenny Smith, Hubie Brown and University of Missouri Coach Quinn Snyder (who looks younger than most of the players he coaches) was that their jaws dropped down to the desks they were sitting at.
After a moment of silence (you could almost hear commissioner David Stern groaning back stage) Snyder got some time to defend the college system, but Barkleys comments had touched nerves and he continued on them for a few minutes despite the reactions. Even the camera seemed to shake for a few minutes as the operator was either chuckling or shocked at what Barkley had said.
All this banter was interactive with the audience that was assembled in New York, and you could hear people react to the comments of the panel.
Just before the draft was over, Barkley told Stern, who was standing at the podium, that he remembered when he first came into the league the commissioner had dark hair. The commissioner didn't say much, he just walked away, much of his gray hair having come from Barkley.
I was waiting for Stern to reply to Barkley, "And you had hair." But to be honest, I can't remember Barkley ever having hair.
Anyway it was a night of surprises and new frontiers from the number one draft pick being from a foreign country, to having the first college graduate not picked until the teens, and a third of the players in the first round hailing from outside the United States.
Let's face it; this draft is almost always a circus. And this year Barkley was it's ring master.