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Did David Kahn Really Suggest The NBA Draft Lottery Is Rigged? Was He Justified?

Colleague Scott Schroeder had a brief commentary about the comments David Kahn made Tuesday night following the NBA Draft lottery and how it maybe, possibly sort of could be rigged, but anytime your team's president of basketball operations goes on a rant like that, there's more that needs to be said. 

Now, the Wolves have had rotten luck in the lottery throughout their entire existence, as the first story in this sequence details. However, if Kahn is implying that there was some sort of impropriety involved with the NBA Draft Lottery, it wouldn't be the first time that someone had made such a claim. In fact, such things have gone all the way back to the very first NBA lottery.

The NBA instituted the lottery system for the first time prior to the 1985 NBA Draft. The biggest star coming out that year was Georgetown University big man Patrick Ewing. There are a couple of theories out there, from the envelope containing the Knicks' logo being frozen to this Zapruder-esque detailing of the process by ESPN's Bill Simmons. . .which doesn't sound terribly crazy, the more you read it. . .that allowed the New York Knicks to obtain the draft's first overall pick and bring college basketball's biggest star to the NBA's biggest market.

That's not the only draft "conspiracy theory" that's been floated around, either.

-The Orlando Magic won the NBA's draft lottery in two consecutive years, 1992 and 1993, despite having a 1-in-66 chance of winning the lottery the second time, allowing them to team Shaquille O'Neal with Penny Hardaway.

-In 2002, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the worst record in the NBA and a 22.5% chance of winning the lottery, which they did. . .making it the first time a team with the worst overall record had won the lottery since 1990. They drafted Akron's own LeBron James with that pick.

-In 2007, the NBA had a couple of struggling teams in the Pacific Northwest in the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Supersonics. Portland had a 5% chance of landing the top overall pick, while Seattle's chances were at 9%. But, when the dust settled, there they were with the first and second picks, which they used to select Greg Oden (who has flopped in the NBA) and Kevin Durant (who still wasn't enough to keep the Sonics from relocating to Oklahoma City).

-In 2008, the Chicago Bulls had less than a 2% chance of winning the lottery, yet wound up on top. . .allowing them to draft Memphis' Derrick Rose, who just happens to be from Chicago. The franchise was still recovering from the loss of Michael Jordan, and the addition of Rose has allowed them to do that quite nicely, thank you.

Now, I'm not saying that the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged. But a process as secretive as the NBA uses. . .not to mention the fact that they're the only sport that does things this way. . .is going to lend itself to questions when you have the sorts of "fishy" results we've seen over the course of the lottery's history.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.