But when it came to his final decision on how he would see the Milwaukee situation, there was this tricky dilemma too: One of the most effective ways of cutting through that market disadvantage — the incumbent star player recruiting fellow stars to come join him — went against Antetokounmpo’s nature. For most of his seven NBA seasons, Antetokounmpo had made it clear that he had no interest in being buddy-buddy with stars around the league. He declined invitations to play with the best of the best during the offseason, most notably a summer workout in 2018 that included three MVPs (LeBron James, Kevin Durant and James Harden). Why join them when you’re trying to beat them?
May 18, 2022 | 12:25 pm EDT Update
For a role player that never complained about his shots or playing time, Golden State’s Kevon Looney admitted something else bothered him about his seven-year NBA career. “People were putting the injury label on me,” Looney told NBA.com. “I take pride in being a tough guy and doing all the dirty work. So, to be a guy that was not healthy messed with my mentals.”
“It’s a huge deal for ‘Loon,’ and it’s a huge deal for me,” Kerr said. “It’s always an incredible badge of honor for a player to play 82 games and as a coach to be able to rely on somebody 82 times. It’s amazing, particularly for it to be ‘Loon’ given what he has been through in his career.”
Unlike those in his draft class, Looney did not face pressure to play immediately because of the Warriors’ sturdy championship foundation. And unlike those in his draft class, Looney lacked the opportunity initially to prove he belonged in the NBA. “I always had faith that I could get back. But I’d always get really close and then something freakish would happen,” Looney said. “I always had trust in the training staff and myself. But I don’t know if everyone had faith in me.”
“We’re going to get this ball rolling,” said Jamin Dershowitz, the NBA’s assistant general counsel, an unintentional pun that kicked off one of the league’s most elaborate—and perhaps a little absurd—postseason events. The NBA draft lottery has been around since 1985, back when David Stern, annoyed at a handful of teams openly losing to secure a better place in the draft order, pushed through a new system. It has evolved since then, from envelopes to ping pong balls, weighted odds to flatter ones, but for nearly four decades the lottery has been a big night on the NBA calendar.
Here’s how it works: Fourteen ping pong balls are slid into a plastic container and sent into motion by air pumped through the bottom. The balls—each one weighed, measured and certified by SmartPlay, a lottery integrity company and sealed in a zip tied case—are inserted one at a time by Peter Rosenbaum, a partner at Ernst & Young. There are 1,001 possible four-digit combinations, with the three teams with the worst record—Orlando, Houston and Detroit—getting 140 apiece. The drawing itself is carefully curated: each ball is vacuumed out at precise ten-second intervals, prompted by an NBA official standing on the opposite side of the room—with his back turned.