THE ULTIMATE GO-TO GUY WHEN GOD SHAMMGOD DECLARED FOR THE NBA DRAFT, ONE GENERAL MANAGER SAW THE LIGHT

May 18, 1997

The general manager of the sagging NBA franchise has made a
decision. Providence College's 6-foot sophomore guard God
Shammgod has declared himself eligible for next month's draft.
The general manager wants to pick him No. 1, make him the
foundation of the franchise. "I have to do it," the general
manager says. "If the Ping-Pong ball comes out in our favor,
I'll have to go with God."

The general manager's assistants are shocked. They've scouted a
zillion college basketball games, and they thought everyone had
agreed that 6'10" Tim Duncan of Wake Forest should be the first
pick, with maybe Keith Van Horn of Utah second and Ron Mercer of
Kentucky third. On all of the scouting reports God was rated as
no better than a low pick in the first round, maybe even a
second-rounder.

"I don't care about your reports," the general manager says. "I
have faith in God. Duncan might be tall, and Van Horn might be
able to score, and Mercer might be a great athlete, but God is
God. How many times have we said, 'God help us,' when we had to
play the Bulls, or the Knicks, or just about anybody wearing
sneakers? Well, here's the chance. God can help us.

"A team with God on its roster surely would get all the loose
balls. The referees...do you think the referees would call those
ticky-tacky fouls on God? Never. God would be an unbelievable
gate attraction. Come to the CoreStates Center or the Great
Western Forum to get a good look at God! God against Shaq! God
against Karl Malone! God, one-on-one, with Michael! Only God can
stop Michael. Isn't that the thinking? O.K., let's get it on!
Let's see how Dennis Rodman reacts when he finally has to stare
God straight in the eye! Whoa!"

"Our reports say that, uh, God is a little on the smallish
side," one of the assistants says.

"Not to worry," the general manager says. "God is all powerful.
He works in mysterious ways. He can be all things to all people.
Get him out on the floor, in front of the crowd, God will be
everywhere."

"His outside shot is a little suspect, too," another assistant
says.

"God will be there when you need him," the general manager says.
"That's his history. You just have to believe in him. I'll tell
you what, the end of a game, down three, time running out, I'd
rather have the ball and the game in the hands of God than in
the hands of anyone in this league. Just when all hope seems
gone, when you're at your lowest, your absolute worst, is when
God usually intervenes. God, not Allen Iverson, not anybody
else, will be the answer."

"Still, he'll be just a rookie."

"Not really. He may be new to this Godless league, but God is
not a rookie. He has seen what there is to see. God is all
knowing. I'll bet you that God has seen things that you and I
haven't even imagined."

The general manager admits that he thinks about God all the time
now. He imagines the NBA draft: commissioner David Stern making
the announcement from the stage, and God bounding out wearing a
baseball cap with the team logo on the front. God smiling for
the photographers. The crazy tabloid headlines the next morning
will be all about the GOD SQUAD or IN GOD WE TRUST or maybe just
OH, GOD!

The salary negotiations will be dignified, orderly. Does God
have an agent? Have to check that. Nevertheless, God will sign
and say, "I love this game." The veterans might be leery or
jealous, but they will find soon enough that God is on their
side. He will be a wonderful influence in the locker room, where
he'll be mostly a benevolent God but also a wrathful God every
now and then, when needed.

God is good. God is great. God will be the go-to guy. God will
find the open man. God will create! Barring injury, the team
will go all the way to the NBA title, and God will be the Rookie
of the Year, the Most Valuable Player and the newest friend of
Ahmad Rashad.

"It's crazy," the general manager tells his assistants. "The
more I think about God the better I feel. God has changed my
life. The sooner you guys accept God, the better it's going to
be for all of you. God can be our savior, our salvation."

The assistants pose one last question: Suppose, just suppose,
some other team wins the draft lottery and decides to take God.
What would happen then? Huh?

The general manager is silent for a moment.

"I guess we'd go for Tim Duncan," he says. "The kid is a helluva
shot blocker."

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: EVANGELOS VIGLIS [Drawing of hand of God spinning basketball]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)