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Jenni Carlson: Big night tonight for Blake Griffin, state

by Jenni Carlson Modified: May 19, 2009 at 8:31 am •  Published: May 19, 2009
Blake Griffin has been the master of his basketball domain, dictating the action and seizing the control.

Until now.

Tonight, he will be powerless. Big Blake can do nothing about the result, and where basketball is concerned, this will be the first time in a long time that has happened.

Then again, there’s nothing quite like NBA’s Draft Lottery.

Ping-pong balls — ping-pong balls? — will determine the Oklahoma City native’s fate and perhaps his hometown NBA team’s future.

"I am anxious,” Griffin admitted via telephone last week. "I’m anxious to find out where I could possibly be going.”

Ditto for everyone in Oklahoma.

This is a day that has long been anticipated by sports fans in our fair state. They watched a fledgling franchise move into Oklahoma City, and they witnessed a budding superstar emerge in Norman.

The fairy tale wrote itself.

The Thunder would have a rough first year in Oklahoma City, struggling to win games but positioning itself to have a good chance of getting the first pick in the draft. Griffin would dominate the college scene and decide to leave school early for the NBA. Then, the Thunder would get the first pick in the NBA Draft Lottery so it could select Griffin.

And the two would live happily ever after.

The dream scenario has come true so far.

"So far” being the key words.

Who knows what will happen tonight at the NBA’s studio in Secaucus, N.J.? The process is so secretive that the team representatives who witness the ping-pong ball process are sequestered in a room and must relinquish cell phones at the door. They’ll know the draft order long before it’s announced on national television, but they won’t be able to tell.

The suspense will be high, not just for the Thunder and not just for Griffin.

All of Oklahoma will be holding its breath, too.

And why not? We’re talking about an Oklahoma native playing for the Oklahoma City franchise. Wouldn’t that be cool? Wouldn’t that be something?

This is one of the most suspenseful non-game moments in the state’s sporting history.

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Tonight’s NBA draft lottery will supply great suspense for Oklahoma: Will the Thunder land Blake Griffin? Here are the eight most suspenseful moments in state sports history, away from the playing field:

→1. Nov. 22, 1998: OU regents vote 4-2, on live television, to fire football coach John Blake.

→2. May 5, 1984: With the whole state, including coach Billy Tubbs, holding its breath, Wayman Tisdale announced that he would return to OU for his junior season.

→3. July 2, 2008: On the day a Seattle judge was to rule on whether the Sonic owners could break their KeyArena lease, the sides settled on an agreement that sent the NBA team to Oklahoma City.

→4. Feb. 12, 1982: Two days after national signing day, at a press conference in Philadelphia, Miss., Marcus Dupree ends months of speculation by announcing he will sign with OU over Southern Mississippi.

→5. June 17, 1997: The National Hockey League announced it would expand to Atlanta; Nashville; St. Paul, Minn.; and Columbus, Ohio, leaving Oklahoma City and Houston out of the running among the six finalist cities.

→6. Dec. 10, 2000: Florida State’s Chris Weinke beats OU’s Josh Heupel in one of the closest votes in Heisman Trophy history.

→7. Dec. 14, 1993: Oklahoma City voters passed, with a 54 percent majority, the MAPS tax that funded a new downtown arena and a new downtown baseball park.

→8. Feb. 15, 2006: Five days after crashing a car, OSU basketball coach Eddie Sutton addressed the media via speakerphone, admitting he had resumed drinking but did not comment on his coaching future.

By Berry Tramel

NBA Draft Lottery: The Most suspenseful moments in OKC sports history

→When: 7:30 tonight

→Where: Secaucus, N.J.

→Network: ESPN (Cox 29)


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