Due to the tragic death of #2 overall pick Len Bias from a cocaine overdose, the 1986 NBA Draft always will be remembered more for what might have been versus what was. Adding to that sentiment, #3 pick Chris Washburn, #6 pick William Bedford, and #7 pick Roy Tarpley all had their NBA careers negatively affected by drugs and alcohol. Whereas Washburn and Bedford were bust-worthy because they never produced respectable numbers (e.g. fewer than five points and three rebounds per game), Tarpley averaged a double-double over his 280-game career. With production of 13 points and 10 rebounds per game, Tarpley wasn’t a traditional bust. Instead, he was a “drug bust” who failed to live up to his tremendous potential after receiving not one but two lifetime suspensions.
While the NBA generally has relied on the principle that “worst picks first” when determining draft order, the league has always altered this principle with assorted gimmicks. As described in my previous post, the NBA originally allowed teams to declare a territorial preference as a way to trump draft order. After eliminating this preference in the mid-1960s, the league began using a coin toss to award the #1 overall pick to the worst team in the East or the West. The draft order for the remaining teams was determined strictly based on the inverse order of how each team finished in the prior season regardless of division (or conference). The coin toss system was considered acceptable for almost 20 years, but NBA Commissioner David Stern decided to scrap it before his first anniversary on the job. This post will review the NBA Draft during the “Coin Toss” Era.
It was a dark and stormy night, perhaps somewhere in the world; however, in my environs the unblocked sunlight radiated from our nearest star and penetrated through the depleted ozone layer of the Earth’s atmospheric shell (for it is on this planet that our scene lies) before gently reflecting off the ecru walls surrounding my cubicle and onto a computer screen which hadn’t been cleaned for several months. In honor of one of the the best known examples of superbly horrendous writing from the 19th century, I may have found its rival for the 21st century. In particular, I have found a writing sample so bad that it can only be called a masterpiece. Fashioned as a countdown of the most terrible New York Yankees trades, the piece reads like the most terrible countdown of NYY trades instead.