If their attire at the 2008 NBA draft was any indication, O.J. Mayo will be doubling as an English professor at a local university, Eric Gordon will be parking cars outside the team hotel and Robin Lopez will appall doctors with the worst documented case of "hat hair" the earth has ever seen.
Yup, the draft has become synonymous with curiously-conceived fashion statements, and Thursday night's gathering did not disappoint. In fact, the wide spectrum of outfits on display was one of the best in recent memory, featuring Mayo's three-piece suit and studious-looking spectacles, Gordon's white, valet-esque sport coat and mismatched pants and Lopez's untamed fro, which won a very visible battle with an absurdly small Phoenix Suns hat. Together, the trio formed a perfect storm of wardrobe dysfunction and reiterated an important point for any sports fan: It's worth watching the NBA draft if only for the awkward combination of big money and bad dressers.
But the strange get-ups weren't the only notable observation from last night's happenings. In fact, here are a few other award winners from the evening's events.
The George Lucas "Phantom Menace" Award
To Darrell Arthur's kidney, which may or may not have a mysterious ailment, but still managed to scare the daylights out of nearly every general manager in the NBA. As a result, Arthur slipped late into the first round and also collected the requisite Brady Quinn "Last Man in the Green Room" Award, making it a successful night of winning imaginary awards. I suppose we'll find out more about Arthur's condition as time wears on, but if things check out, whichever team ends up with him -- honestly, my head hurts from trying to figure it out -- could come away with the steal of the draft.
The Skip Bayless "Hyperbolic Statement" Award
To the likeable Fran Fraschilla, who prematurely proclaimed Knicks draft pick Danilo Gallinari could have the same impact in New York City as Derek Jeter and Tiki Barber. Really? Well then, no pressure there. Fraschilla had many of the same glowing reviews for Darko Milicic back in 2003 -- and we all know how that turned out. However, in a surprising twist, Dick Vitale restored balance to the universe when he jumped on the air and subsequently trashed any NBA team that opted for a foreign-born player over a more proven American college star.
The Billy Packer "Hidden Agenda" Award
To NBA Commissioner David Stern, who used the NBA draft, yet again, as an unlikely vehicle to promote the WNBA, which somehow is still operational. Stern opened the evening by welcoming the audience to the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the "home of the New York Knicks and the WNBA's New York Liberty!" Of course. Then, during random points of the broadcast, various bits of WNBA news crawled across the bottom of the screen. My questions: How much has the marketing effort to promote the WNBA cost the regular NBA over the last decade? Are we talking more or less than the Mitchell Report? And at what point does the league end charade and realize it's not working?
The Pacman Jones "Red Flag" Award
To Boston Celtics first-round selection J.R. Giddens, whose on-screen scouting report listed "professionalism" as his main area for improvement. Um, yeah. Aren't we supposed to see a physical attribute in that space? In this case, the "professionalism" blurb refers to a bar fight three years ago in which Giddens was stabbed in the leg and needed 30 stitches. Giddens is quick to point out that his issues are a thing of the past, and it's certainly great news to hear that he's recovered. Still, it's not common to see a character trait listed in the "needs improvement" section of a player's breakdown. If you're a Celtics fan, isn't that somewhat alarming?
The Office Space "We fixed the glitch" Award
To the production guy in charge of the sound effect that played before each new draft selection, who realized and corrected, about 20 picks into the first round, that his clip was being drowned out by the sound that Microsoft Windows-based PCs play when something goes wrong with the system. Extremely subtle? Yes. Free advertising for Apple? You bet. Hang with me here: if you DVR'ed the draft, re-watch the first half of the first round and listen carefully whenever the "new selection" alert flashes across the bottom of the screen; you'll hear the annoying sound Windows plays when you attempt an illegal operation. We'll probably never know what went wrong, but Paul Allen must've been furious.
The Bon Jovi Livin' On A Prayer Award
To New Jersey Nets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, whose move to trade Richard Jefferson and clear cap space two years before LeBron James' deal expires, makes him an early favorite to lose his job in two years. That is, of course, if LeBron decides he'd rather not play for a team led by Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, and Nenad Krstic when he becomes a free agent. And that's entirely possible. Sure, the trade might have improved the Nets for next year, but unless Yi has a secret cult of Chinese fans burrowed deep within the tri-state area, there's no way this move was about anything other than landing LeBron. And in related news, Jay-Z also traded his first-born son, Beyonce and a groupie to be named later to King James in return for a soft verbal to play for Brooklyn in 2010.
The Merriam-Webster Annual "Adjective Awareness" Award
To ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who possesses an uncanny ability to manipulate words into phonetically-superior phrases, much the way geneticists alter plant DNA to produce disease-resistant crops. Bilas was on his game again this year, focusing on the fundamental attribute that originally made his draft commentary so famous: wingspan. Of course, you knew this would happen; however, it was utterly masterful the way Bilas alluded to players' arm lengths a few dozen times without actually repeating himself or using the word "wingspan." Eric Gordon, for example, had an "elongated reach." Anthony Randolph had "considerable linear extension into space." And Michael Beasley had "arms that extend beyond normal human limits," which sounded rather intimidating. If you're keeping track, that's the exact same statement three times, but in very different terms. Bilas may, in fact, be half-man, half-thesaurus.
Ty Hildenbrandt writes regularly for SI On Campus. E-mail Ty at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, questions and random observations.