CHICAGO—Just days after beating long odds in the NBA Draft Lottery by winning the 2008 draft's first pick, the Chicago Bulls shocked the basketball world by announcing that they would trade their prize in on yet more NBA lottery tickets.
"This is pretty good, this No. 1 pick, it's true," Bulls general manager John Paxson told reporters while watching pre-draft workouts at the United Center. "We could probably get a pretty good player. But you see, if we cash it in and play the NBA Draft Lottery some more, we have a chance to win, like, the whole draft. Our team can't afford to pass up a chance like that."
Basketball experts reacted to the move with skepticism bordering on scorn.
"I really thought the big question for the Bulls would be whether to take Derrick Rose at point guard or Michael Beasley at power forward," said Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jay Mariotti. "But now they're going to try and win the entire draft? Typical Bulls move. They're going to lose it all, you know. No wonder they don't have a coach yet."
"Do they understand the actual odds of winning a lottery are something like 30 million to one?" said ESPN's Marc Stein. "They had a two percent chance to get even this far. They should quit while they're ahead, or at least trade down, maybe get Brook Lopez at center, a position they really need."
"Even if they somehow beat the odds and pull it off, look at what they'd get," Stein added. "The 2008 Draft sucks! Kosta Koufos? Chase Budinger? Is it worth risking it all for Geert Hammink? Some jackpot."
Still, Bulls management stands by the decision.
"I hear these people second-guessing our decision to re-invest the top pick," team owner Jerry Reinsdorf said Monday, "and it reminds me of 1984, when everyone wanted Hakeem Olajuwon or Sam Bowie and we wound up with a player you might have heard of named Michael Jordan. Well, just think of the entire 2008 Draft as the second coming of Michael Jordan."
The Bulls front office was immediately inundated with phone calls, letters, and e-mails from fans insisting that the entire 2008 class, though certainly good, was no Michael Jordan.
Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner David Stern has not yet made a decision as to whether he would allow the Bulls to make the risky and controversial move, saying he was still weighing his options.
"As dangerous as trading in the first pick for more lottery tickets would be, it would also set a dangerous precedent if we started telling teams what they could and couldn't do with their lottery winnings," said Stern, while noting that the overwhelming majority of NBA Draft Lottery winners were destitute basement-dwellers less than five years later. "That said, I would certainly counsel the Bulls to think long and hard about what they're doing before going for the whole thing. The whole situation makes me wonder if having a lottery isn't a bad idea to begin with."
"Still, I won't stop the Bulls from doing this if that's what they want," Stern added. "But you know what? I'm not altogether certain that the draft lottery really works this way."