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. This is a big deal for Oklahomans, none more so than Griffin. "It doesn’t really matter to me,” he said of where he goes. "Wherever it may be, I’m going to go in and try to do my part and try to get better and help that organization. I’m not going to be disappointed with anybody.” He’s not pulling an Eli Manning, not saying that he will refuse to sign with a particular team if it drafts him. "Not at all,” Griffin said, laughing at the notion. "I’ll stick with whoever wants me.” That would be every one of the teams involved in tonight’s lottery, but if wishful thinking counted for anything, the Thunder would surely have an advantage over the other 13 teams. Maybe that will make the ping-pong balls bounce Oklahoma City’s way. Maybe that will stir the basketball gods to answer those prayers for Griffin. Big Blake knows plenty of folks want the Thunder to hit the jackpot in the lottery, but he refuses to dwell on all the different scenarios. "I haven’t thought about it a lot,” he said of what happens tonight, "but the reason I think I haven’t is that it’s out of my control.” That’s not the norm for Griffin, and frankly, it’s not the norm for sports fans these days, either. Most of the time, we now know ahead of time what will happen with these big non-game events. That’s because someone will hide in the bushes to figure out who the new coach is or will conduct a straw poll to determine who wins the award. True secrets in sports are rare anymore. The NBA Draft Lottery remains one of the few. The suspense ends soon, sports fans. You might feel powerless as you watch the announcement show tonight, but you can rest assured you’re not alone. Blake Griffin feels the same way.
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