The NBA draft is all the rage.
Prospects are dissected, measured and weighed,
interviewed and analyzed, compared to heroes of
yesteryear. There is the pre-draft camp, the endless
talk show hustle as well as fantasy drafts. Preceded
by hype, hope and hoopla, the NBA Draft finally
arrives with a cast of hundreds of personalities,
nationally televised hour after hour. And then there
is the endless post-draft commentary.
Once upon a time things were quite
different in a simpler world and a smaller NBA. The
first draft in 1947 saw first-round selections made
by Pittsburgh, Boston, Providence, New York,
Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago, Washington and
Baltimore. No name from that first-round faraway
time (aside from Knicks draftee Walt Dropo, who went
on to a distinguished Major League baseball career)
had any kind of real basketball impact.
The records from that primitive
time are so shrouded in a time warp that a couple of
the players drafted in '47 like Bob Alemeida and
George Petrovick have a question mark next to their
name signifying a lack of information as to the
college they played for.
A few non-first-round players went
on to make a name for themselves in pro ball like
Andy Phillip out of Illinois, Jim Pollard from
Stanford, Bob Kurland of Oklahoma A&M, and Red Rocha
who had played at Oregon State.
A footnote to NBA history is Tony
Lavelli of Yale, taken by Boston in the 1949 Draft.
He went on to play the accordion for the Celtics at
half time, sometimes. But contrary to rumors, his
musical skill was not one of the reasons for Boston
The 1950 Draft went 10 rounds for
some teams and 12 for others, as a few teams lost
interest. Territorial picks were sometimes much
fought over and debated. The exclusive right to
draft a player who came from a team's geographical
region gave Philadelphia the legendary Paul Arizin
A couple of others who went on to
fame and glory were picked in that draft: Bud Grant
(NFL) by Minneapolis and Bob Cousy by Tri-Cities.
The 1951 NBA Draft lasted 12
rounds, but most teams stopped picking by then. The
First Round went this way:
Team Player College
1 (Baltimore) Gene Melchiorre,
2 (TriCities) Mel Hutchins,
3 (Indianapolis) Marcus Freiberger,
4 (Ft Wayne) Zeke Sinicola,
5 (Syracuse) John McConathy, NW
6 (NY Knicks) Ed Smith, Harvard
7 (Boston) Ernie Barrett, Kansas
8 (Rochester) Sam Ranzino, North
9 (Philadelphia) Don Sunderlage,
10 (Minneapolis) Whitey Skoog,
*The pick of Skoog was a
In the sixth round, the New York
Knicks plucked Al McGuire from St. John's. The last
player picked was John Burke of Springfield,
Massachusetts by Baltimore in the 12th round. By
1966, the territorial (having first rights to a
player in your geographical region) selections were
eliminated. A year later, the New York Knicks used
their fifth pick to get Walt Frazier and their 17th
to obtain Phil Jackson (yes that Phil Jackson).
In the ensuing years, all types of
marquee players and also-rans have made their way
onto NBA rosters through the draft. In my opinion,
the 1970 and 1981 NBA Drafts rank among the all-time
best yielding bumper crops of players.
The 1970 NBA Draft yielded such
greats as Dave Cowens by Boston (4th); Pete Maravich
by Atlanta (3rd); Bob Lanier by Detroit (1st);
Calvin Murphy by San Diego (18th); and Geoff Petrie
by Portland (8th).
The 1981 draft included such gems
as Isiah Thomas by Detroit (2nd); Mark Aguirre by
Dallas (1st); Buck Williams by New Jersey (3rd); Tom
Chambers by San Diego (8th); Rolando Blackman by
Dallas (9th); Danny Ainge by Boston (31st); Kelly
Tripuka by Detroit (12th); Orlando Wooldridge by
Chicago (6th); and Eddie Johnson by Kansas City
Who knows what the NBA Draft 2012
has in store. Stay tuned.