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Why there’s a 100 percent chance the NBA lottery is fixed

May 21, 2013, 10:40 AM EDT

Nerlens Noel, Lakeem Jackson AP

The NBA lottery is fixed. There’s no question about it. Just as last year’s draft order was determined by a David Stern-led conspiracy, this year’s will be determined the same way.

Think about it. If the NBA lottery really were legitimate, why not conduct the draw publically rather than in a back room? If the league conducted the lottery in the open, nobody could ever question the results.

So, don’t bother tuning in tonight. I’ll tell you why it’s totally fixed.

Orlando Magic

Odds of winning the lottery: 25 percent 100 percent

The NBA doesn’t technically have compensatory picks, but we all know Stern takes care of teams that lose superstars. The Cavaliers lost LeBron James, and then they won the Kyrie Irving lottery. The Hornets lost Chris Paul, and then they won the Anthony Davis lottery. Now, the Magic lost Dwight Howard, and it’s their turn to land the top spot.

Charlotte Bobcats

Odds of winning the lottery: 19.9 percent 100 percent

The Bobcats might be the league’s most stale team. That’s part of the reason Charlotte is changing its nickname back to the Hornets, but a new star would go much further. Charlotte once packed the stands for NBA games, and with a good team, ticket sales will surge again. Plus, Stern wants to boost Michael Jordan’s profile.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Odds of winning the lottery: 15.6 percent 100 percent

Stern desperately wants to create a Cavaliers-Heat rivalry to boost rankings, and to do so, he must make the Cavaliers better. Dan Gilbert remained loyal during the lockout, and especially after LeBron became the worst example of players seizing control from teams, Stern will reward Gilbert with a second No. 1 pick.

Phoenix Suns

Odds of winning the lottery: 11.9 percent 100 percent

Robert Sarver might not be selling the Suns, but he’s at least dipped his feet in the water more than other owners. It’s particularly important for the NBA that its franchises for sale are as valuable as possible, raising the value of all franchises in the process. If Sarver decides to sell anytime in the next five years, having the No. 1 pick on his team would raise Phoenix’s value.

New Orleans Pelicans

Odds of winning the lottery: 8.8 percent 100 percent

Selling the New Orleans franchise proved so difficult, the NBA took over the team for a while. Even then, the league needed time to find a buyer. You think Tom Benson ponied up $388 million for only one No. 1 pick? He’s getting at least two from Stern. The NBA showed it was committed to keeping a team in New Orleans, and for that decision to be financially viable, the Pelicans need more talent, which Stern will gladly provide.

Sacramento Kings

Odds of winning the lottery: 6.3 percent 100 percent

This just reeks of the Hornets situation last year. The NBA brokers the sale of a team shortly before the lottery, and – poof – that team gets the No. 1 pick. Why do you think these sales occur this time of year? Stern sweetens the pot with a No. 1 pick.

Detroit Pistons

Odds of winning the lottery: 3.6 percent 100 percent

The Pistons’ attendance has been extremely volatile in the last decade. When the team was good, the Pistons led the league in home fans. Lately, they’ve ranked near the bottom. So, the marginal value of giving Detroit the No. 1 pick is extremely high. Stern also has a habit of rewarding the new owners with the No. 1 pick, and though Tom Gores had to take a backseat to more pressing matters in Cleveland and New Orleans, he’ll finally get that No. 1 pick promised to him when he bought the Pistons in 2011.

Washington Wizards

Odds of winning the lottery: 3.5 percent 100 percent

It’s the second term of a basketball-loving president, and if the NBA is going finally cash in on the marketing that would come with Barack Obama attending more games, the Wizards must be better sooner than later. Obama has been spotted at Wizards games before, but if those games became higher profile, Obama would probably attend more. That’s the type of cache the NBA could use as it expands globally.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.7 percent 100 percent

Glen Taylor might not be selling the Timberwolves, but he’s at least dipped his feet in the water more than other owners. It’s particularly important for the NBA that its franchises for sale are as valuable as possible, raising the value of all franchises in the process. If Taylor decides to sell anytime in the next five years, having the No. 1 pick on his team would raise Minnesota’s value.

Portland Trail Blazers

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.1 percent 100 percent

Just as Paul Allen buys so many late first-round picks, he bought the No. 1 pick, too. Why do you think the league’s other owners put up with a rigged lottery? It’s because the “lucky” owner pays off the rest. Really, everybody wins. Allen gets his top player, and the other teams get cash for a player they didn’t deem that valuable (or else they would have bid higher). Best of all, because this income is under the table, no taxes.

Philadelphia 76ers

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.8 percent 100 percent

Philadelphia is the largest media market in the lottery, and Sterns obviously wants his big-market teams to be better. 76ers fans can be among the league’s most-passionate – and the NBA is getting increasingly better at turning that passion into money – but this season’s malaise sucked the life out of the fan base. Nothing would get Philadelphia fans going like the No. 1 pick in the draft, and even if they boo him on draft night, at least they’ll be watching.

Toronto Raptors

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.7 percent 100 percent

Not only are the Raptors the only NBA team based outside the United States, Toronto has plenty of overseas flavor. The Raptors are the NBA’s gateway to worldwide expansion, and the more fans the league draw sin Toronto, faster the growth will occur.

Dallas Mavericks

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.6 percent 100 percent

In the first full season since Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks, Dallas missed the playoffs. Now that he’s personally involved, Cuban won’t sit quietly as the NBA fixes the lottery – unless his teams wins it. Stern will give into Cuban just this once, helping the Mavericks reach the playoffs next season and allowing the NBA to continue its lottery-rigging ways without Cuban interfering.

Utah Jazz

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.5 percent 100 percent

Greg Miller’s ownership has been a little rocky, lowlighted by a very public feud with Karl Malone, since the death of Miller’s father, Larry H. Miller. Stern and Larry were old friends, and on his way out, Stern will do his old bud one last favor. Salt Lake City might not be the biggest market, but at this point, Stern doesn’t care. He just wants to look out for his friends.

Don’t worry, this post will still be here after the lottery in case you forget why it was fixed. Once you know who won the No. 1 pick, come back to check why we told you all along the whole thing was rigged for that team.

  1. dylude - May 21, 2013 at 4:36 PM


    I don’t know many top law firms would want to broker such a public sham deal. Always been skeptical of the skeptics. But I enjoy the conspiracy talk for entertainment.

  2. JHathwell - May 21, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    This is good stuff. Wonder how many people were too thick to see it’s obviously a parody?

    • ghisara - May 22, 2013 at 9:22 PM

      You’d have to be an idiot to suggest otherwise.

      However, isn’t there a valid argument to be made as to why it’s not done in the open? It seems rather odd.

  3. saint1997 - May 21, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Brilliant article. Just brilliant

  4. adoombray - May 21, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    This would be funnier if a dozen other prominent sports blogs didnt write similar articles that were posted hours before this one

  5. trickybastard - May 21, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    This type of article was written last year. Not very original

  6. allstargeneral - May 21, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    I still remember watching the expression of Pat Williams from the Orlando Magic after they’d gotten the number 1 overall pick the 2nd year in a row – with only one ball in the lottery mix. It would’ve been fun to watch Webber stay in Orlando with Shaq.

  7. greatminnesotasportsmind - May 21, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Clearly the NBA is against the Minnesota Timberwolves for the secret Joe Smith signing. That’s why the Timberwolves are the only team to have NEVER moved up in the draft. That’s why every year if it’s a 3 player draft, they will pick 4th. If it’s a 7 player draft, they will pick 8th. I guarantee you one of the 5 teams behind them, are going to move up. The Wolves will pick 10th, at best

  8. jackkerouc - May 21, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    “If the league conducted the lottery in the open, nobody could ever question the results.”
    That’s BS!

    In 1985 the Knicks won the lottery and the ability to draft Patrick Ewing with the number 1 pick. Even though this was conducted in the open did not stop conspiracy theories of the lottery being “fixed”. Some of the theories stated that New York Knick envelope was in the freezer and therefore allowed the commissioner to fix the lottery.

    • Kurt Helin - May 26, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      Members of all 30 teams plus media members are in the drawing room every year, but that will not sway those convinced of a conspiracy. Facts can be annoying.

  9. rajbais - May 21, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    This is better. Only 4 times since the first lottery year in 1985 has the team tied or with the worst overall record won it. Yet, teams don’t learn the lesson about the odds and history.

    Just like the draft. It’s not worth the time. Too many of these players are unready and ready made players help you win titles!!!

    The NFL Draft is better because at least their players are readier when coming out of college.

  10. ndrick731 - May 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    76ers fans can be among the league’s most-passionate? The only people to go to see the 76ers are people who can’t get tickets to Flyers games. If they moved out of town nobody notice.

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