How nice was it to ground the Rocket last night? That's all I have to say about that...
Enough already. Enough with the hype, the coverage, the blowing way out of proportion. I think I speak for everybody when I say we're all tired of it, and we'll all be very glad when the whole thing is over later tonight.
What I am talking about is the coverage, analysis, and general mania being created over the NBA Draft. This event is being way overhyped. I mean, didn't NBA season just end with my correct prediction of the Spurs? The draft, in most sports besides baseball, signals the official start of the next season, and here we are, champagne still drying on the Spurs' jerseys, and already they have to look to next year.
I don't fault the NBA for the overhyping of their draft. I fault the media (of course). The NBA is simply holding a formal ceremony to preserve the future of the league. It's the media that is making this event bigger than any single NBA game, regular or post season. Take, for example, last night at 11:00, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNews all had NBA draft coverage at the same time! Anybody looking for a little Baseball Tonight to see the highlights of their beloved and beleaguered home team take down the Evil Empire was out of luck (not that I know anybody like that).
So all of this analysis and speculation has led to high drama and suspense, right? Wrong. The Portland Trailblazers signed Greg Oden last night, making him the official first pick, Kevin Durant the official second pick to Seattle, and everybody else some irrelevant pick that will always be remembered for being picked after Oden and Durant.
The reason the NBA draft doesn't need this much coverage is that it is generally unspectacular. There are only two rounds, for starters. Some teams, like the Toronto Raptors, have no picks. And of all the high priced, high profile rookies, few of them actually perform their inaugural season. Take, for instance, last year's draft. High profilers Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison, and Shelden Williams all lost Rookie of the Year to Brandon Roy. Who the hell is Brandon Roy? The logic seems to say that if the top rookie can come from nowhere, then the draft and all it's coverage and analysis must be irrelevant.
I don't mean to pick on the NBA draft and it's overhyped-ness, though. Other sports have drafts that don't make sense, either, and yet still get plenty of coverage. The WNBA draft takes place about a week before play begins. Way to give the rookies a chance there, WNBA. The NHL draft took place maybe a week ago, and for the first time, two Americans went 1 and 2 overall. Quick, name either one, or what them they went to (OK, I know the real reason nobody can name the player or the team is because hockey is irrelevant. An irrelevant league, however, holds an irrelevant draft).
The MLB draft was televised for the first time this year, and quickly, we all found out why it took so long for the draft to reach the airwaves. First, players picked in this draft go through the minor leagues for so long that even die hard fans will forget about them by the time they reach the show. Second, the MLB draft could feasibly go on forever. The MLB will continue having rounds as long as one team wants to keep going. What a way to water down the talent in your league. Can you imagine the end of the draft, when Bud Selig staggers back up to the mic and says, "With the only pick in the 234,345,136,784,856th round of the 2007, now 2008 Major League Baseball draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select Verne Troyer." I know, the prospect of drafting Mini-Me sounds ridiculous, but such is the MLB draft. Players don't declare for the MLB draft, so teams can take and make offers to literally anybody. Many college players and some high school players have been drafted, then returned to school after rejecting the team's offer. I, of course, am still patiently waiting by the phone, yearning for some team to draft a diamond in the rough in the very, very, very late rounds.
There is one league that does the draft right, and of course, it's the NFL (sometimes it's just unfair how much the NFL dominates other leagues). The draft, like all things NFL, is governed by a set of rules that are unflinchingly rigid. As such, the NFL draft is a spectacle in and of itself that trumps the other leagues in TV ratings during two days in April. The NFL requires players to declare for the draft, so teams know exactly who is available. The draft is held long enough after the Super Bowl that the champs have had time to celebrate, and the fans want some football. Players picked go right to work helping to improve their team, and the Rookie of the Year (a la Vince Young) is someone the fans have actually heard of. And even the late rounds are important, as superstars like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Shannon Sharpe, Tom Brady, and Adalius Thomas have all come from the late rounds. Every pick is important, entire franchises rest on single picks, the drama is excruciating, and it's so much fun to watch. Other leagues, take notice.
Hopefully, TV ratings for the NHL, MLB, and NBA drafts will be so low that networks will be reluctant to pick them up next year, and we can be relieved from draft mania that seemingly never ends. As for the NFL? This years draft was so popular, yet so long, that there are talks about moving the almighty first round to prime time television on Friday night. Long live the NFL.