6 Most Memorable (In-Person) NBA Draft Moments
Last night’s NBA Draft went off without (many) major fan reactions–but that’s not always the case. In honor of a relatively tame evening in 2017, let’s look back at some of the more memorable, in-person draft night reactions.
Knicks fans watch in agony as Steph Curry is snatched up by Golden State
Our first unforgettable NBA Draft reaction comes from the 2009 NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The hometown New York Knicks had the No. 8 overall selection and many of their fans had their heart set on Stephen Curry, who came off three excellent years at Davidson. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, Curry was selected by the Golden State Warriors just one pick too early at No. 7. The reaction: a huge groan followed by a wave of loud booing. What seemed bad then, is much worse now that Curry has gone on to win multiple MVP awards and championships. New York ended up taking Jordan Hill instead who lasted just two years in the Big Apple before he was traded for an over-the-hill Tracy McGrady.
David Stern takes in a hearty round of boos in 2013
Prior to stepping down from his post as NBA Commissioner, David Stern had the pleasure of announcing picks for the last time in the 2013 Draft. Stern, a controversial character due to a number of different reasons, was no stranger to being booed by fans attending the event live. The fans went on to boo him for a solid 20 seconds before he explained that the boo is an American sign of respect, a statement which was met with applause and scattered laughter. Stern undoubtedly took this one on the chin, making light of the situation. Booing the league’s commissioner has been a rite of passage for fans of all sports, so it’s hard to blame them for razzing Stern one last time.
Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis, pandemonium ensues
It’s a rarity in this world when a sporting event moves fans to tears. When the New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick in 2015, the hometown fans were so frustrated that they showered the arena with boos. A particularly distraught young fan even became internet-famous for his tear-filled reaction. The Knicks track record for drafting talent over the past decade has been downright atrocious, so you can almost forgive Knicks fans for their reaction. Luckily, Porzingis has proven them wrong so far.
Complete confusion as the Cavaliers select Anthony Bennet
Cleveland’s surprise selection of Anthony Bennett shocks the announcers and attending fans alike
The 2013 NBA Draft will likely be remembered for its dearth of talent but it did provide us with a great moment right off of the bat at pick No. 1. The Cleveland Cavaliers surprised everyone by selecting Anthony Bennett out of UNLV. Nobody was more surprised than Bill Simmons, however, as he bellowed out a “woah” as if he had just slipped on a banana peel. The pick was met by a subdued reaction from the crowd, who were clearly not expecting to hear Bennett’s name called first. I would have certainly been just as confused myself if I was experiencing it live due to the fact that this particular selection seemingly came out of nowhere.
Isaiah Austin receives standing ovation as a ceremonial pick
The 2014 NBA Draft provided us with one of the best “feel good” moments of the last handful of years. Isaiah Austin was a talented draft prospect who played two years at Baylor before being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. Marfan syndrome is a genetic issue that affects the connective tissues, and upon learning of the diagnosis Austin was declared unable to play basketball at a competitive level due to the condition. Doctors said that the arteries in his heart were so large that he was risking his aorta rupturing if he continued to play competitive basketball. Commissioner Adam Silver invited Austin to the draft and had him selected as a ceremonial pick which fulfilled the former Baylor Bear’s dream. It was a deeply touching moment as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Often times the NBA Draft is remembered for its unfortunate mishaps but it was great to have a moment that everyone can appreciate when someone’s dream comes true.
Celtics fans boo and cover their eyes upon drafting Ante Zizic in 2016
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge always has an eye to the future. In 2016, The Celtics selected both Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic, two relatively unknown foreign players, in the first round. The Celtics fans in attendance were less than thrilled with the pick, voicing their discontent with a chorus of boos and a round of thumbs down. Patience is a virtue, but the fans who make the trip to the draft don’t have much interest in a draft-and-stash scenario.
(Image courtesy The All-Night Images via Flickr.