Putting Your Finger In The Pie: The Grand-Daddy of Wizards #1 Draft Pick Run-Downs | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Putting Your Finger In The Pie: The Grand-Daddy of Wizards #1 Draft Pick Run-Downs

Updated: May 20, 2010

“I know Mr. Pollin had his finger in this pie some place.”

-Ted Leonsis

While talking about pies, you might as well remember the Wizards’ draft lottery color pie and how red was the big winner. And speaking of the red, shall we begin to discuss a team color change?

Here’s a run-down of what was said about the Wizards winning the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery … with some commentary.

Flip’s Preference & The ESPN Lottery Machine

When asked if he had a preference between John Wall and Evan Turner at his Wednesday press conference (with the disclaimer that he didn’t have to share), Flip Saunders said yes. When asked to share it, he wouldn’t … with a smile. But it’s clear that Saunders wants the opportunity to coach a special player like John Wall.

Flip also said that two days prior to the lottery, he, Ernie Grunfeld, Milt Newton (director of player personnel) and Tommy Sheppard (VP of basketball administration) gathered in Tommy’s office and played the ESPN.com Lottery Machine.

“I said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do guys, we’re going to go five picks, five times … the best out of the five, that’s what we’re going with.’,” Saunders said. “So it came up John Wall the first time, as far as getting the number one pick, and I said, ‘We’re not doing anymore.’ (comfortable smiles/laughter).”

Also, Dan Steinberg caught Saunders using “our guys” when talking about Arenas and Wall. Mike Prada has more on Flip’s infatuation with Wall on Bullets Forever.


I didn’t do anything particularly lucky or superstitious leading up to the draft … but pretty much everyone else did. So which one worked? I guess we’ll never know.

The two biggest charms of the night were Irene Pollin’s wearing of the 1978 NBA championship ring that her late husband used to wear and never take off, and Ernie Grunfeld’s ball on a chain which was given to him by his father back in his homeland of Romania when he was six years old.

Henry Abbott of True Hoop, however, reports on the little-known incident of Grunfeld reading his horoscope in the Washington Post on the morning of … horoscopes can be generic, but Grunfeld’s (he’s a Taurus) is certainly a fun read.

Also on Wednesday, the color yellow became the latest lucky trend. Flip Saunders, in his presser, said Irene Pollin wore that color to the lottery because it was Abe’s favorite.

Friends and Destinations

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reminds us that LeBron and John Wall could be less connected than perceived because Wall elected to sign with Dan Fegan as he agent instead of LeBron’s team. Fegan, by the way, is Arenas’ old agent … you know, before Gil started negotiating his own contracts. However, the two are still considered to be on good terms.

So, the fact that New Jersey lost could/maybe/sorta hurt LeBron’s chances of going there and D.C. is not on his short list because of a “harsh relationship with the Washington franchise,” writes Windhorst.

True. DMV fans do still have a bad taste in their mouth about LeBron, but as far as the “franchise” … everyone is gone. Departed is ‘LeBron neck-chopper’ Darius Songaila, ‘calls of crybaby’ Brendan Haywood, ‘overrated’ DeShawn Stevenson, and even ‘D.C. stand up’ Caron Butler. And even through FT-line whispers, LeBron and Arenas are still said to be cool with each other. Just saying.

Yahoo’s Marc Spears also has a good piece on the Wall-Fegan relationship with some Arenas on the side. The article gives an ever so gentle impression that Wall was disappointed with New Jersey not winning but figured that D.C. is not all that bad. I guess we should consider that the 19-year old might have had dreams of Jay-Z and Bron-Bron in Brooklyn too.

Andy Katz of ESPN, however, paints a picture that the John Wall camp is “thrilled” with Washington.

Buck’s Reaction

One of my first reactions on Twitter after finding out the results was a “NOOOOOOO!! IT’S NOT POSSIBLE!!” in honor of Wizards television play-by-play man, Steve Buckhantz. In real life, part of Mr. Buckhantz’s actual reaction involved breathing heavy and getting closer to the T.V. as the lottery results slowly unfolded. [DC Sports Bog]

Top Quotes:

Bethlehem Shoals of NBA FanHouse, who I’d consider much more of an expert in Gilbertology than most anyone else who covers the NBA on a national level, writes a well-balanced assessment of the Arenas/Wall combo. Here are two excerpts from his article:

Arenas, on the other hand, is a holdover from a previous era. He’s also, oddly, the franchise player of a version of the Wizards that have been torn to the ground. Yet somehow, he’s left standing. It would be like if everyone but the President were killed in a nuclear attack. Patience with him and public goodwill are low. Yes, fans will warm to Gil again, but not if he stands in the way of the John Wall Era.


Yes, I tell myself, Arenas can change, this could work. He’ll play off the ball, ceding some responsibility as he did with Hughes; Wall gets to control things as promised.

Yet there are so many contingencies in there, it’s almost worse than assuming the worst. After all, Arenas is the mortal enemy of certainty and stability — you simply never know what you’re getting from him. To his credit, Gil works his tail off and woodsheds like crazy. You can easily imagine him heading into the season with plans to make good on this partnership. That is, until the questions start, his performances fall under scrutiny during a transitional period, and the hyper self-conscious Arenas ends up short-circuited, acting out.

Mike Wise of the Washington Post writes:

What a graceful, glorious exit from the NBA ownership stage after 45 years for the Pollin family, handing the baton off to golden-touch Ted, who also won Alex Ovechkin in a scratch-off game of chance about six years ago.


To whet the palate, think Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony next summer. (Kevin Durant is staying in Oklahoma City. Trust my friend Michael Lee: Durant is basically Duncan in San Antonio, happy as pie in small-market heaven. He can’t do wrong and his family loves the town.)

Andrew Sharp of SB Nation writes what it means to Wizards fans to get the No. 1 pick after all the turmoil:

Seemingly overnight, the whole franchise had turned to rubble. Our owner had passed away, our superstar was facing jail time, and when we traded Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, the “Clippers East” label really became unfair. To the Clippers.

In the span of a decade, the Wizards had been trampled over by the greatest player ever, picked themselves up, lucked into a superstar, built a team around that superstar, and then watched the whole thing come crashing down in spectacular, embarrassing fashion. Where do you go from there?

Michael Lee of the Washington Post writes:

Let’s just roll with fate for now, because there arguably wasn’t a more downtrodden, last-all-hope franchise than Washington that arrived in Secaucus, N.J. You had death, dissension, guns in the locker room, felony convictions, cost-cutting trades, season-ending suspensions, season-ending injuries, and a player-coach dustup. And, oh yeah, horrible basketball throughout.

Kenneth Williams of The Same Intensity writes:

I no longer want to jump through my T.V. and confront Nick Young personally every time I see him take an off-balanced 24-foot jumper and jog back on defense like he’s playing in a charity basketball game. I no longer care that the Wiz traded the fifth pick in last year’s draft then neglected to select DeJuan Blair, who I would have seriously contemplated taking in the first round to begin with, with their second-round selection.

John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog writes:

So it’s the Wizards who get the #1 overall pick. Of course it is. Of course it is. That’s just perfect. Of course the franchise whose fanbase has made hating LeBron a defining aspect of their fandom gets arguably the best pure prospect since LeBron himself. That’s just absolutely wonderful.

Ted Leonsis on Gilbert Arenas:

Certainly, last year there was a lot of turmoil, not only in his personal life, but what it brought the team and the franchise, and my style is not to have any opinions. I want to meet him. I’m predisposed to really liking him. Hopefully, he’ll like and respect me, but we have to set up that meeting.

One Absurd Paragraph

Dave Berri of the Wages of Wins Journal writes:

One last observation before this process begins:  Derrick Rose was considered the consensus number one choice in 2008.  Rose posted better college numbers (11.28 PAW40) but after two seasons he has yet to develop into one of the top point guards in the game.  Maybe that will happen for Rose in the future.  Maybe, though, it won’t.  The Rose story, though, should be considered as Washington evaluates the merits of Wall.  Remember – and I repeat – people were just as certain about Rose in 2008.

Berri suggests that DeMarcus Cousins is the best player in the draft, according to his stats, and Evan Turner is second best.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.