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Posted: Friday June 26, 2009 11:54AM; Updated: Tuesday June 30, 2009 1:25PM
Luke Winn Luke Winn >

Behind the scenes at the NBA draft

Story Highlights

NBA prospects and their families gathered in NYC for the NBA draft

Oops! Someone put Kentucky's John Calipari behind rival coach Rick Pitino

Brandon Jennings watched the draft from a nearby hotel until he was picked

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Kentucky coach John Calipari avoided sitting in his seat, which was one row above Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
Luke Winn/SI

Scenes, musings and twitterings from five hours of hustling around Madison Square Garden on NBA draft night ...

1. The first thing I noticed upon walking into the Garden at 6:30 p.m. was the proposed seating arrangement pictured at right: Louisville's Rick Pitino and Kentucky's John Calipari had been assigned to back-to-back chairs just outside the green room. The ego-cramping in that scenario would've rivaled the physical cramping that occurred when the NBA seated Shawn Bradley and Manute Bol back-to-back at the 2004 draft. Pitino eventually sat in his seat while Calipari -- at least while I was in the room -- avoided his, which meant no awkward photos, and no opportunity for Kentucky fans to create Photoshops of him putting his feet in Pitino's hair.

2. The best thing heard out of the mouth of always-quotable former Louisville star Terrence Williams:

To Spaniard Ricky Rubio, backstage by the prospects' predraft buffet at 6:55 p.m.:

"You're nervous? Why are you nervous, when you've been making money since you were 11?"

3. The second-best T-Will line of the evening:

To an NBA employee in a hallway near the press conference area, after she asked if he was happy about being picked by the Nets:

"Of course. It's a great market."

4. I found two bizarre press releases sitting on a table in the press room early in the evening. The first was a plain sheet with the header "Bill Duffy Statement on Brandon Jennings", and then this paragraph:

Because we do not have [sic] strong grasp of Brandon's draft position, I've advised that he and his family enjoy this day in a more private setting with the people he loves the most. Brandon Jennings will have a very illustrious career in the NBA, and at the end of the day, that is all that is important." -- Bill Duffy, President and CEO, BDA Sports Management

In non-press-release terms, what that meant was that they were freaked out about the possibility Jennings would fall into the 20s and be the last man in the green room, so they pulled the weak move of hiding out in a suite at the draft hotel (the Westin Times Square). This was a Duffy-driven decision, but Jennings admitted to that family history played a role in it, too: He didn't want a repeat of what happened to his cousin, Marcus Williams, in the 2006 draft. Williams slid all the way to No. 22 and was the dreaded LMITGR, so, Jennings said, "I already had a little cold feet because of that."

Soon after he was taken by the Bucks with the 10th pick, Jennings, his mom, brother, cousin and Duffy all jumped in a car and high-tailed it over to MSG. Jennings was handed a Bucks hat on his way in the door, and made an entrance from the rear of the stage immediately after the Suns took Earl Clark at No. 14. Jennings, who became a trendsetter for playing in Italy after he couldn't get eligible at Arizona last season, is the first -- and possibly last -- first-rounder to show up on stage well after he'd been picked. He seemed pleased with his theatrics, telling, "I thought the entrance was tight. It'll probably make SportsCenter today."

5. The second peculiar press release -- headlined "OH, BROTHER!" -- had been issued by the Harlem Globetrotters, who wanted media to be aware that they had selected Oklahoma's Taylor Griffin (bro of No. 1 pick Blake) in some sort of mythical draft in which the Globetrotters appeared to be the only participant. (Until I see a press release from the Washington Generals, I'm assuming that to be the case.)

This was a presumptuous move by the 'Trotters, who clearly didn't expect Taylor to be selected with the No. 48 pick by the Suns. He had already left the building by the time he was picked, but I'm guessing that he'll choose the NBA Summer League over meeting Curly Neal.

(U.S. soccer goalkeeper Tim Howard, who's kind of busy at the moment trying to win the Confed Cup in South Africa, was also on the Globetrotters' list of draftees; they called him a "former high school basketball standout." I'm sure he considered jumping on the first plane to Harlem and skipping the Confed final.)

6. The NBA issued an edict before the draft for teams not to spoil draft picks by posting them on Twitter in advance of podium announcements from David Stern and Adam Silver. This rule didn't apply (or at least didn't reach) college coaches, as Oklahoma's Jeff Capel tweeted "Taylor Griffin to Phoenix at 48!!!!!!!!" at least three minutes before the pick was unveiled. The tweet would have been better had he added, "Suck it, Globetrotters!" at the end.

7. I left my newly created Twitter account (@lukewinn) open all day and collected a greatest hits list from the army of ballers/media folks I'm following. Here goes:

James Morgan, USF player and friend of T-Will, from the NBA draft luncheon Thursday:

@BiGG8ME23: Bigass Blake Griffin is in the bathroom tryna sneak a doo doo in...

St. Mary's guard (and eventual Blazers draftee) Patrick Mills:

@Patty_Mills: Just had a meat pie with the family in time square!!!

James Morgan again, from the luncheon:

@BiGG8ME23: David stern dont have a neck

T-Will, to fellow Rainier Beach (Seattle) alum Nate Robinson, from a Levi's promotional suite:

@TheRealTWill: @nate_robinson most def come by the Levi suit bro maddddddd gear

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