You can understand why plenty of people — tweeting players, whispering league executives and couch-bound joke-makers alike — cocked an eyebrow skyward when NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver announced Wednesday night that the Charlotte Bobcats would make the second overall selection in the 2012 NBA draft. Reporters who've seen the ping-pong balls get pulled can swear up and down it's all on the level, and diligent fans can work back through history to find evidence of a fix lacking, but the appearance of impropriety inherent in a team that was owned by the NBA up until about seven weeks ago winding up winning the 2012 NBA draft lottery and the right to select Kentucky stud Anthony Davis ... well, evidence or no, people like to believe in things. In the absence of something better, they'll take a conspiracy.
After watching an owner skip town, a generational point guard shipped out and an abandon-all-hope-of-scoring 21-45 season, fans of the New Orleans Hornets do have something better — the chance to watch Kentucky big man Anthony Davis cover five to seven yards of court space for the next five to seven years. And, as they showed during a Hornets lottery watch party at Manning's Eat-Drink-Cheer in downtown New Orleans on Wednesday night, they're pretty stoked about it:
As well they should be.
After suffering through a wretched stretch marred by league stewardship, hamstrung executives and difficult-to-watch (if virtually always diligent) on-court play, the Hornets could come away from the experience with Davis in the middle, the draft's best point guard prospect at No. 10 overall (either Weber State's Damian Lillard or North Carolina's Kendall Marshall, according to the Y! Sports mock draft tendered by DraftExpress.com's Jonathan Givony on Wednesday night) and a potentially re-signed Eric Gordon, who was injured for much of this season but remains one of the league's best young off-guards. That team wouldn't contend immediately, but properly leveraging this lottery windfall could be, as new owner Tom Benson said on Wednesday, "the first step to winning it all." If nothing else, it's the start of something worth cheering, which Hornets fans richly deserve.
And for every other fan base? Well, now we've all got something to gripe about, legitimate or otherwise. Total win-win.
Video via the Hornets' YouTube channel.