The last word from the Prudential Center, on the best and worst of the 2011 NBA draft ...
FAVORITE MOMENT: After Kansas' Morris twins went back-to-back at Nos. 13 and 14, seeing them embrace in the press-conference room. At Kansas, they comprised the brashest frontcourt in college basketball (said Marcus in February: "Guys as good as me in the post? I don't think there are any"), but this was an emotional, teary exchange that we caught on video. They even nuzzled cheeks at one point, proving that the Morrii really do have a soft side.
(Anyone who's shocked that Markieff went ahead of Marcus: Revisit this "Project Defense: Charting The Jayhawks" post that David Hess put together in our Tourney Blog. 'Kieff's defensive impact at KU was immense.)
WORST CONGO/DAKOTA SLIP-UP: During Bismack Biyombo's press conference, a reporter addressed him as "Bismarck." Hopefully that won't foreshadow a stint with the NBDL's Dakota Wizards.
BEST INFORMATIONAL GUIDE: The half-sheet the Jazz handed Enes Kanter before his interviews contained some very basic data on the team. Like a good rookie, he remembered to thank "The Miller Family" in his press conference, during which he also said, "I love to play toughness."
BIGGEST STEAL: Morehead State's Kenneth Faried, to the Nuggets at No. 22. The NCAA's all-time leading rebounder will have a longer NBA career -- and offer more instant value -- than at least 10 players picked ahead of him. I'm not sure if he'll instantly have the league's best hair, but he does put work into it: When I called him earlier on draft day, he was in a Newark hair salon, getting his dreds ready for prime time.
WEIRDEST CROWD DISCOVERY: That one of the Lithuanians in the flag-waving crew that celebrated the first-round selections of Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas was not just a regular dude: He was Valdemaras Sarapinas, the Consul General for Lithuania in New York. (He's the guy in the middle of the left frame.) This was a major event for the Lithuanians, deemed worthy of a diplomatic appearance.
AWKWARD DEPARTURE: Fired Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl was in the stands, trying to wait it out until the bitter end in hopes that former player Scotty Hopson would be picked as a late second-rounder. The draft reached the 50s, at which point the rowdy stragglers in the crowd -- who will yell at anything -- spotted Pearl and began to shout his name. Within minutes, he got up and left. Hopson, who made the misguided decision to leave Tennessee after his junior season, was never picked.
SADDEST DEPARTURE: A handful of players who weren't invited to the Green Room came to the draft anyway, hoping to crash the stage from the stands. That plan worked out for Faried, Providence's Marshon Brooks, Tennessee's Tobias Harris, UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt, USC's Nikola Vucevic and Michigan's Darius Morris. Around the 55th pick, it became evident that there was one entourage in the seats, still waiting it out, although no one in press row could figure out the player's identity.
An NBA rep with a guide to "Stands" attendees passed along the sheet that's pictured above, offering an answer. The draft hopeful was a 22-year-old Frenchman named Sarra Camara, who'd impressed a few teams at the Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, and was apparently in contention to be taken by the Lakers at No. 58. Los Angeles went with former UConn forward Ater Majok instead, and Camara's crew, five people in all, got up out of their seats and filed slowly out of the Prudential Center.
"I don't know why they took Majok," Pascal Levy, Sarra's agent, said when I caught up with him. "[Camara] is a much better player than Majok."
Levy had brought another client, Camara's Le Havre teammate Pape Sy, to last year's draft, and Sy had been selected by Atlanta at No. 53. Camara had hoped for a similar experience, but tried not to appear crestfallen before leaving the building. "It's cool," he said. "But the draft was a little long." Amen to that.-- Luke Winn
I'm surprised these Glens Falls No. 32 jerseys -- worn by Jimmer Fredette's hometown crew -- weren't widely reproduced and sold as throwbacks all across Utah this season. People were buying anything Jimmer; any halfway-decent t-shirt sold like mad outside his NCAA tournament games.
It was a strange evening for Fredette. He didn't end up in Utah. He was officially picked by the Bucks at No. 10, but they were selecting on behalf of the Kings, who'd made a three-way trade involving Milwaukee and the Bobcats. That trade, however, didn't become official until 10:48 p.m., when it was announced during the second round by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver.
As you can imagine, there were a lot of media members waiting to interview Fredette -- national guys, New York guys, Utah guys, Sacramento guys and the crew doing the official Jimmer documentary. The problem: He had to stay in a thing called the "Player Phone Room" at the Prudential Center until the trade became official. Jimmer sat in there for about two and a half hours, while camera crews waited ... and waited ... and waited in position for the vital shot of him emerging down a hallway.
The cameramen were not pleased. His coach at BYU, Dave Rose, was stuck sitting in the Green Room, trying not to act bored. Jimmer tried not to complain ("I wish it could have been a little bit earlier," he said of his release). But it had to be somewhat of a buzzkill: biggest night of your life, and you have to spend a huge chunk of it sequestered in a phone room.-- Luke Winn
Enes Kanter, who went No. 3 overall to the Jazz, was a delight. He cried after being picked, which was endearing. He came to the press-room area holding a half-sheet of paper, on which was printed key data about the Jazz ("ownership: The Miller Family"; "General Manager: Kevin O'Connor"; etc.). He set it down in front of him for each interview. When the reporter in the photo below asked Kanter if he played any other sports, he said, "I play ping pong."
Then Kanter went to the main press-conference room, where an NBA official asked him for an opening statement on being picked by the Jazz. Kanter remained silent, staring out at the reporters, waiting for questions. He had apparently not heard the request for the opening statement. When he was asked, "What's your game? ... Who are you like as a player?" he said, "I hate to lose and I love to play toughness."
The Jazz finally freed Enes Kanter. And for them, he will play toughness.-- Luke Winn
No fan of the NBA wants a lockout. These four guys from Boston have made it their goal to help the league and its players avoid one. Josh Levine, James Bucklin, Jacob Noble and John Clancy created white shirts that say "No Lockout" and showed them off in the grandstands of the Prudential Center.-- Tommy Alter
I asked Marshon Brooks who his sleeper pick in the 2nd round is. He responded: "Andrew Goudelock, definitely." Goudelock is a 6-foot-2 scoring point guard from the College of Charleston. He's projected to go in the mid-to-late second round.-- Tommy Alter
The Pacers have traded No. 15 pick Kawhi Leonard and their second-round pick (No. 42) to the San Antonio Spurs for George Hill and rights to 2005 pick Erazem Lorbek, a league source confirmed to SI.com.-- Ian Thomsen
Knicks fans are furious here after the Shumpert pick. Their reaction brings back memories of their infamous 2006 Renaldo Balkman blunder. Fans were so upset here that they booed Washington's Chris Singleton, who was chosen next, as many thought they would choose Singleton. Carmelo Anthony summed up the feelings of most New York fans on his twitter page second after the pick. He tweeted, "goodnight I'm out."-- Tommy Alter
The blog's correspondent at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Jessy Poole, has passed along two photos from outside the official Jazz draft party. The fans there seem to be in favor of choosing someone named "Jimmer."
(In all seriousness: There seems to be a strong possibility that the Kings will take BYU's Jimmer Fredette with their newly acquired No. 10 pick, which came in a three-way trade with Milwaukee and Charlotte. If that happens, the Jazz draft party is not going to be much of a party.)-- Luke Winn
One advantage to holding the draft in Newark: seating. An NBA official said around 9,000 tickets were sold for tonight's event. Crowd exploded for the Kyrie Irving pick, much more subdued for Derrick Williams.-- Chris Mannix
As green-room attendees took the stage for the customary pre-draft group photo, the lone suit that stood out belonged to San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard (second from left), who apparently favors a "suave doorman" look. The single most impressive piece of draft attire turned out to be a pair of shoes, on the feet of UConn's Kemba Walker. Pink saddle shoes, befitting a national champion.
Two choice comments overheard while standing next to the stage:
• An NBA official charged with arranging players for the photo: "There are too many guys the same size." (He promptly split up Kansas' Morris twins, forcing them to stand on opposite sides of the picture.)
• A different NBA official: "Guys, those Gatorade bottles on your [green room] tables? Those are just there for show. You can't even open them. They're glued shut."-- Luke Winn
They're currently showing videos of first round picks from the past 10 years. To no surprise, the only pick who got booed was LeBron.-- Tommy Alter
A shot of the green room at the Prudential Center, empty at 5:30 p.m. The calm before the draft.-- Luke Winn
We've arrived at the Prudential Center, which is the temporary epicenter of hoops on the East Coast, having hosted an NCAA tournament East Regional and the NBA draft in one four-month stretch.
Spotted outside the building: A man in a blue-and-yellow argyle blazer and bow tie whom we mistook for Morehead State women's basketball coach Tom Hodges. The dude pictured below at left, however, is not Hodges. He's a Hofstra fan, here to (hopefully) watch super-sleeper Charles Jenkins go in the first round. Maybe to the Bulls at 30? "I'd buy that jersey," Mr. Hofstra Argyle said. Also spotted outside: A small Kobe (pictured at right), fleeing a Dirk Nowitzki cutout in a state of panic. Dirk did not pursue.-- Luke Winn
WHERE IS EVERYONE?: There are only about 35 fans here at Prudential right now. From my jersey count, I've seen three Bulls, two Knicks, one University of Arizona, one Purdue and one crazy throwback Warriors jersey. Odd considering we're in Newark. -- Tommy Alter
DONNIE'S DRAFT MEMORIES: Since this is Donnie Walsh's last draft as president of the Knicks, here's a look back at his very first draft, when he was head coach of the Denver Nuggets in 1980. Denver selected James Ray, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound forward from Jacksonville. Ray lasted three seasons and finished with career averages of 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game before taking his talents to Europe, where he played pro ball in Italy, Spain and Turkey.-- Andy Gray