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Live at Draft Night '08: Handing Out the Hardware

A Daily Babble Production

"Just make note of the things that stand out to you; let your experiences do the reporting" -- Justin Poulin

There are some days when titling this column the Babble really makes even more sense than usual -- because I'm incoherent and truly clueless (okay, fine, more clueless than usual).

This is one of those days.

It's five o'clock in the morning in the East, and I'm still processing all of the night that was the 2008 NBA Draft.

So many draft picks, so many conversations, so much to prattle on about.  But since prattling with any semblance of coherence is beyond my capability at this hour, we're going to promise you the serious prattle and extended stories for several days to come.  For now, a night of ceremony deserves to be capped with some formality of its own.  So without further ado, in the Jughead Poulin spirit of "What Stood Out To Yours Truly," we present to you the awards from the floor of the 2008 draft:

The "Kevin Garnett to Boston" Award for Most Intriguing Rumor:  From a conversation I had with ESPN's Ric Bucher at one o'clock this morning: "In a perfect world, Pat Riley would have been able to trade down and take O.J. Mayo.  He didn't want to take O.J. Mayo outright because Michael Beasley had the most value.  It remains to be seen whether Michael Beasley actually starts the season as a [member of] the Miami Heat.  They could very well go back and re-visit making a deal, especially now that Memphis has acquired O.J. Mayo."  Bucher said this was just a hunch, but he also was ready to hammer Memphis management for dealing their front-line draft pick (Kevin Love) and their best shooter (Mike Miller) to acquire a combo guard (Mayo) on a team with one super-athlete (Rudy Gay) and a hoard of young point guards already.  Worth monitoring this one as we get further from the draft.

The Jemele Hill Award for Hyperbole:  To Mayo and DeAndre Jordan, both involving their usage of the word "great."  Mayo selected it to describe the basketball-playing abilities of his would-have-been-backcourt-mates (if he hadn't gotten traded from Minnesota hours later), Randy Foye and Rashad McCants.  Jordan inserted it into his summation of the Los Angeles Clippers organization.  Nice sentiments, but c'mon, fellas.  Sometimes, it is possible to go too far in saying the cliche 'right thing.'

The "Whoever Asked Jim Mora About the Colts' Playoff Chances In 2001" Award for Most Enjoyable Question:  Decided quite early in favor of the Miami Herald's Sarah Rothschild, who asked Miami draftee Michael Beasley, "Do you think you'll be in Dwyane Wade's Fave Five?"  Beautifully played, Sarah.  Plus, big Mike gets some credit too for coming right back with a "Hopefully.  I couldn't call him earlier because of the minutes."  Good thing Beasley had that one ready, because it was the nearest he came to making up for winning...

...The "Isiah Thomas In the Front Office" Award for Most Confused: Yep, also to Beasley, just a question before Rothschild got involved.  Queens Chronicle writer Lloyd Carroll (who seems to specialize in asking intriguing non-basketball questions) wondered about whether Beasley would be meeting with an accountant and his agent and lawyers soon to figure out a strategy for investment and managing his money in general.  Sadly, Mike didn't have a chance on this one.  He was completely lost, finally mumbling a non-committal "I guess I will.  But not right now."  Good times.

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The "Whoever the Knicks Pick" Award for Most Heckled: In a real stunner, it's...you guessed it...Danilo Gallinari!  Knicks fans aren't a happy bunch these days.  That said, the "USA!  USA!" chants seemed a bit over the top.

The Roy Hobbs Award for Best Quote From a Fan:  From Celts fan Dave Ambrose, who came down from Boston, on the Knicks fans' reaction to the Gallinari pick: "It was worth the trip and price of admission alone.  It was pandemonium."  Amen, sir.

The Stephen A. Smith Award for Slickest-Lookin' Dude: O.J. Mayo looks really smooth all the time.  Last night was no exception.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Award for Fan Base That Traveled Really Well: To the green!  I had the chance to see and converse with Celts fans from all over last night. Bennet Hayes and his boys traveled all night from Washington D.C.  Ambrose was from Boston.  New Hampshire, Connecticut and several parts west were represented as well.  Oddly enough, nobody seemed to mind having to wait until the thirtieth pick either.  Seems like the whole championship situation worked out for the green faithful.  It was a special pleasure to chat with all the Celts fans in attendance (maybe we'll have some new readers, too!), and the "2008 NBA Champions" t-shirts were just beautiful to see up close.

The "Kendrick Perkins Holding the Larry O'Brien Trophy" Award for Unquestioned Highlight of the Night:  Getting to spend five solid minutes chatting with Mike Breen, the NBA's lead play-by-play man on ABC and the voice of the Knicks for the MSG Network.  As many regular readers here are already quite aware, I make no bones about the fact that I'm a long-time enormous Breen fan, and it was a true thrill to have the opportunity to talk with the man behind the patented "Bang!" call.  He really is one of the nicest and most gracious guys in sports, and it was a joy to interact with him.  We've got a full report of the Breen conversation coming this weekend, but I'll mention now that the first question out of my mouth was for you folks: "You've taken a lot of heat on our site for supposedly being anti-Celtic, particularly in the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals.  Where does this come from?"  Wait 'tiil you see his response...and some candid commentary on the Knicks' front-court to boot!

The [Empty] Award for Most Surprisingly Patient Fan Base:  To Nets fans, of whom I saw more tonight than I did in my two trips to the Izod Center last season combined.  For the most part, these folks seemed extraordinarily understanding of the Richard Jefferson cost-cutting trade, happy to plan ahead for the days of the Brooklyn LeBrons.  It should only add to their enjoyment of this that Bucher called the Nets his big winner for the day, courtesy of the RJ trade.  Next up: Getting rid of Vince Carter.  Faith in Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe reigns in the Swamp.

The "Brandon Rush at Media Day" Award for Coolest Dude in the Room:  Few people likely have the fortitude required to stand strong through an abundance of "We Want Russ!" chants throughout an entire evening on their biggest work night of the year.  Adam Silver is one of those people.  The deputy commissioner is simply awesome, and I'm not just saying that because he answered my "Highlight of your night?" question with "You mean besides this interview?"  Laid-back guy, great sense of humor and more than ready to face all the doubters (and there are many) that he can't adequately fill the shoes of his predecessor, Russ Granik.  As with Breen, we've got full details of my deputy-commish-to-babbler chat coming this weekend, but suffice it to say that it isn't every day that the NBA's guy who calls being the NBA's CEO his "day job" asks, "What language is okay for me to use on your blog?" when starting to talk about the verbiage thrown at him from his first heckler on the job.  Thanks for the time, Adam.

The "Kurt Thomas For Not Eradicating Stephon Marbury While They Were Both In New York" Award for Most Restraint Shown: To any regularly credentialed media member checking in at inside of 400 pounds.  I have no idea how it's possible to maintain a weight under that benchmark if the spreads for the media are routinely anything close to what the Garden dining staff had out for us last night.  All sorts of meat, chicken and pasta accompanied by cookies, cakes and desserts galore.  Again, if you're checking in anywhere under four bills, I commend you.

The Laker Troll Award for Commentary Least Appropriate for CelticsBlog: To Jack Merkouris, the Knicks fan who started with "My name is Jack," finished with "Fire Walsh!" and filled the two and a half minutes in between with a lot of sentiments surrounding the Gallinari pick that I can't print verbatim in this space.  The NBA Draft: Where Knicks fans showing up at three in the morning to get draft tickets and then going berserk after the pick happens.

The Howard 'The Guru' Weinman Award for Recipient of My Biggest Thank-You (tie):  To George Rodecker of Basketball Times who didn't think twice about taking me under his wing as soon as I had introduced myself.  From explaining the routine of the draft to providing tips about places to go and people to speak with to debating old-school versus new-school forms of statistical analysis to providing career advice, George was the most encouraging colleague and helpful tour guide I ever could have imagined.  It was truly a pleasure to meet you, George, and I look forward to chatting further in the future.

The Howard 'The Guru' Weinman Award for Recipient of My Biggest Thank-You (tie): To Brandon Guarneri of Men's Fitness and Jerald Hoover for joining George in engaging in thoroughly enjoyable basketball banter with me all night.

The Howard 'The Guru' Weinman Award for Recipient of My Biggest Thank-You (tie):  To Justin Poulin, for helping me get the chance to be there last night for an unbelievable experience across the board.  Follow-up here goes to CelticsBlog CEO Jeff Clark for all his support for our efforts throughout.

The Howard 'The Guru' Weinman Award for Recipient of My Biggest Thank-You (tie):  To everyone who kept up with me all night via text message.  From CB managing editor Green17 to my long-time boys Anil the Despondent Knicks Fan, Acks the Kevin Pritchard-Hating Blazer Diehard, Tek Joba, Meadville Tribune reporter William Powell and the one and only Robert Mays, thanks to all of you for sharing this experience with me.  Wouldn't have been the same without you.  Glad I extended my monthly plan big-time, too.

The Howard 'The Guru' Weinman Award for Recipient of My Biggest Thank-You (tie):  Of course, no list of gratitude would be complete without some thanks to Howard and Naomi Weinman, for being happy to be awake at three o'clock in the morning to chat all about the draft from start to finish.  And for all their undying support.  Thanks, folks.

What an unbelievable night.  It might come off to some as a 'show' seemingly just worth catching on television and reading about on these here Interwebs, but being there in person and taking in all the buzz, the boos and the chatter of the NBA Draft was more than worth every second of it.  We've got plenty more on tap in the days to come in terms of full details on chats with Breen, Silver and two NBA analysts, Celtics draft commentary, discussion on the basketball ramifications of the draft at large and the in-person experience itself.  But for now, both clock hands are on the six, which means it's time to get some sleep.

Draft '09 is less than a year away.  Given how wonderfully last night turned out, it's already on the clock in my book.