David Stern's announcement of the first-round picks in the 2013 NBA draft took on a special meaning. With Stern set to retire as league commissioner in February after 30 years, this marked his last time greeting draftees. While fans mostly used this occasion to boo Stern heavily at every opportunity, the 30th pick of the round was different. It stood as Stern's last draft announcement, a farewell to a once-quiet event that he helped turn into one of the centerpieces of the NBA.
When the Phoenix Suns took Serbian guard Nemanja Nedovic — the Suns selected for the Golden State Warriors, according to Yahoo!'s own Adrian Wojnarowski — it was more than just the league's introduction to a 22-year-old who will probably stay in Europe for another season or more. Fans stood and applauded for his 30 years as commissioner.
However, that was only prelude to a special appearance. As Stern's successor and current deputy commissioner Adam Silver arrived to take over at the podium, he welcomed Hakeem Olajuwon, the first pick of the 1984 draft and the first player Stern shook hands with on the draft stage. To top it off, Olajuwon wore a version of his draft-night tuxedo, albeit with some necessary modifications for size.
Check out a side-by-side comparison of Stern and Olajuwon in 1984 and 2013 after the jump (via @BeyondTheBuzzer):
Unfortunately, Stern did not don a fake mustache for the occasion.
That's a pretty cool, not particularly ostentatious way to honor 30 years of David Stern at the draft. As mentioned by Rece Davis on the ESPN broadcast, Stern announced 839 draftees as commissioner, or nearly twice as many players as can be employed by the NBA's 30 teams at any one time. That's a legacy, to say the least.
Now we'll just have to see if Adam Silver ends up at a similar scene in 30 years. Maybe likely 2014 top pick Andrew Wiggins will play Hakeem's role on stage in 2043.
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- Hakeem Olajuwon