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Stories Of The NBA: 1985 Draft Lottery Was Rigged

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In 1985, the NBA ratings were struggling and a lot of conflicts were going on behind the scenes. The leagues cocaine problem was completely out of hand, and it had lost multiple stars because of it. The 1986 season was the contract year for the NBA with its TV deal on CBS, and they needed to shape up or ship out, so they bring in Patrick Ewing.

NEW YORK - 1985: The New York Knicks General Manager Dave DeBusschere poses for a portrait with the NBA Commissioner David Stern while holding Patrick Ewing's #33 Jersey during the 1985 NBA Draft at The Felt forum in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 2002 (Photo by Noren Trotman/NBAE/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – 1985 – Getty Images

Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest NBA players of all time, but without a doubt is the biggest prospect in NBA history. The superstar center and former New York Knick played his college days at Georgetown, where he dominated. In his 4 years with the Hoyas, Ewing would average 15 PPG, 9 RPB, 1 APG and 3 Blocks per game, a sensational stat line and all around player. With the NBA’s rising cocaine problem and with it needing to strike another deal with CBS, it was all on Patrick Ewing’s shoulders to light it up, which he did — but before he dominated, he needed to get drafted and that’s where our story takes place.

With the contract year coming up, the NBA knew Ewing would be a star, but where could he generate the most popularity. Well, look no further than media capital of the world, New York City. Going into lottery night, the teams with the worst record in the NBA were as follows: Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, and The New York Knicks. The Knicks had the third-worst record in the NBA, so like the lottery does, it projects the Knicks to get the third overall pick. The Knicks would come up with the first overall pick, thanks to their buddy David Stern.

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Jack Wagner, who is supposed to be a neutral party representative that would place the envelopes for the 7 teams that didn’t make the playoffs. The issue is, Jack Wagner isn’t neutral, he just happened to work for a company that is the auditing firm for the company that owns the New York Knicks, Gulf & Western. Wagner is perfect at tossing in the envelopes cleanly, except the New York Knicks envelope. The Knicks envelope would slam against the metal and would fold, evidently if any behind the scenes code was created, Stern would now know which one is which. The catch is, a 1985 non HD television camera picks up the fold VIVIDLY, so if we can see it so can NBA Commissioner David Stern. Stern shuffles the envelopes, and then moves the envelope on top of the Knicks envelope out of the way and picks the New Yorks. The rest is history.
Patrick Ewing would go on to become a Knick and future NBA Hall Of Famer like he was eluded to at Georgetown. Ewing never tasted the team success of winning an NBA championship, but will forever be remembered as an all-time great.

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