We were at the service station near East Brunswick when the ADD pills kicked in; furiously scrolling through Twitter timelines about the lottery while biting my nails and asking everyone for gum 37 times.
Having never covered an NBA or basketball event in my life, I spent a good portion of the money the editors gave me on pot and NBA2k13 for so I could study up the night before. Luckily I still had the roach of a blunt and the blessing of my party to partake in some anxiety relief before we got to the city.
I popped out of the car in front of the hotel where the media pick up their credentials and immediately started sweating in the hazy Manhattan heat (why would I wear jeans?). Trying to play my sweat wipes off as face scratches, I followed the giant directional signs to the credential pick up and completely missed Anthony Davis (the most conspicuous person in the world) walk past me and say hello.
After the obligatory overpriced lobby cocktail or four, I settled my bag at the corner of the media bull pen where we'd all watch the draft before they brought us over to the studio. It was then that I realized I had packed a flask, because after all, I am an Eagle Scout, therefore I am always prepared. I slipped the flask into my front pocket and walked slowly into the reception area so I could stop sweating (I swear the ADD pills make my pores overactive).
The first person I see when I walk into the reception area is Michael Symon standing alone. Now if you're like me and watch Iron Chef, you'd understand why meeting him would be a life-altering event. Upon approach, I notice he's talking to the most gawky, dirty, white trash looking guy there, so I circle around like a big, creepy vulture and wait for their conversation to die down.
"I wish they had some fucking booze here," moaned the tall gawky guy in the JNCO jeans you used to see at Hot Topic. He looked over at me and caught me sort of staring at his stupid fucking jeans and Michael Symon so I knew I needed a quick recovery if I was going to be able to salvage this.
"Hey man I got a flask if you promise not to get me in trouble," I said while sort of laughing and checking my phone as to play off like I'm not an alcoholic.
Without hesitation, tall guy goes: "Fuck yeah, what's in it?" Whoa, calm down bro, you're gonna scare away the Iron Chef.
"It's Gin" I said as I slid it out of my jeans and flipped it over to the heroin addict looking guy.
"Ugh, Gin?" said Michael Symon, watching this whole degenerate exchange happen. I felt like I had failed him. "Jeesh, you guys came to party huh," he laughed at us while shaking his head.
"Mr. Symon, I'm such a huge fan - like seriously you have no idea I fucking love Iron Chef. Can I take a picture with you?" I blurted out all in one terrible slur after taking a quick swig from the flask and handing it back to the tall lurching creepster. He happily posed for a picture and endured a quick "so, this food is pretty good here, huh?" joke.
"This is Machine Gun Kelly," Symon broke my over-zealous fanboy gaze by introducing me to the tall, sketchy, dirty guy I had been judging the whole time (yet, who I still shared my flask with). I felt pretty stupid not to realize who Machine Gun Kelly was by seeing him, seeing as I know plenty of terrible bar girls and wannabe strippers who can't resist a white rapper. I dapped him up: "dude I know, I just didn't wanna fan boy you, I'm a huge fan." I pretty much don't like his music at all - but he was a pretty chill bro.
I was able to add myself to the conversation through the power of booze and extract enough information to realize these guys were with the Cleveland clan. They all had the signature red bowties and were brought there by Dan Gilbert.
Most teams treat the lottery with little fanfare and might send a key player, or notable front office guy - Cleveland doesn't fuck around -they bring everyone and party hard.
Once the reception broke up, the media folks all went back to our holding room to watch the rest of the draft. I fumbled around with my computer and tried to tweet/retweet Wizards/DC stuff but honestly, there wasn't a lot going on at that time and most people thought a late 1st rounder locked in for Washington...how wrong they were.
The rest is really just a blur: realizing Washington was going to get a top 3 pick happened while running from the media holding room to across the street (in Times Square) like we were a 100 contestants in a reality show. We were then ushered into a giant industrial elevator, and then pushed quickly into the TV studio where I met back up with the Cleveland guys getting their pictures taken by everyone.
"Pretty good fucking luck," I said to Machine Gun Kelly, with his arm around the older Gilbert son and his other around Michael Symon.
"WHERES THAT FLASK MAN?"
I got a few looks from media taking pictures of the Cleveland crew and just laughed it off...I still had that fucking flask in my pocked like a deranged alcoholic.
I snuck off to talk to Flip Saunders, the only guy there I actually knew other than Michael Lee from the Washington Post. I was able to catch him while he was still talking to Kevin Love. Flip remembered me from when I was a producer at 106.7 The Fan and would always call him or tease him when he'd come into studio.
"You missing DC yet?" He smiled at me with that sort of "eat shit" smirk. "Oh and remember, this is on the record."
"Man, to tell you to truth I do love DC," Flip put his hands around his waist like he was coaching in a game. "Great city. I miss being around those guys. They're building something pretty special there I think if they can just keep getting the right guys in place."
"Shit man, I was just joking about being on the record, you don't have to give me a radio soundbyte." I laughed at his response but he genuinely meant it and I could tell the way he looked at the ground and smiled while I joked with him.
"I mean it. Those were good times and bad times. Tough times for sure but those were a great group of guys"
So there's my version of the story. I didn't talk to Ernie Grunfeld and I basically just held my phone up to Bradley Beal while he was talking to the rest of the media. If you want to know all those really important quotes about really important things (sarcasm) I suggest checking that out elsewhere. The draft lottery itself is a pretty meaningless novelty in the grand scheme of non-sport sporting events, but it provides an interesting and special insight into how the NBA works and the relationships built in front offices and on the court.
I don't know if HoopDistrict will ever send me to another draft lottery again but if they do, I really hope there's an open bar.