NEW YORK — For the first time since 1993, the NBA Draft Lottery returned to the Big Apple for Wednesday’s live telecast on ESPN, prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the lottery, the New Orleans Hornets gained the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft slated for June 28, exclusively on ESPN.
ESPN’s coverage of the Draft Lottery was hosted by Mark Jones and analyst Jay Bilas. Officials, owners, players and coaches for many of the drafting teams were on hand for the event as well as prime prospects including North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, UConn’s Andre Drummond and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson.
During the program, ESPN sideline reporter Heather Cox took viewers behind the scenes to learn more about how the lottery works and the level of security required to guarantee the integrity of the results. (Since 1985, the NBA has used some version of a lottery system to award top draft picks to teams in the league.)
“This sport is so unique in the way it chooses the lottery and who gets the Number One pick,” Cox said.
“I think it’s fun for people to see and to find out about the good luck charms and figure out what the odds are — it’s just that element of suspense that makes it compelling.”
Added Bilas: “There is certainly a drama to it and it’s compelling. If somebody pops up who is not in their normal spot, that means that somebody in that spot jumped up to the Top 3. So, it shocks you a little bit. This is really kind of cool. People just care about opening the envelopes and who gets the picks.”
Both Cox and Bilas added that the Times Square location utilized on Wednesday gave the event some extra buzz with all of the athletes and guests in attendance raving about their opportunity to participate from the heart of New York City.
“New York City is a little more vibrant,” added Bilas. “I love New York City. It’s great being right in the middle of Times Square.”
Doug White, who serves as Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions for ESPN, said the move to Times Square was intentional. He hoped it would add to the grandeur of the event and deliver a better, more interesting experience for fans.
“Times Square is the convergence of all things media,” White said.
“It’s a great environment that only Times Square can offer. A New York location also helps to get players, special guests and team representatives in and out pretty easily. Ultimately, we want fans to watch. The venue helps but it all comes down to the show itself and how the balls bounce.”