Big Game, Small World
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T W E N T Y - T H R E E :Washington, D.C.
PHOTO BY: MANNY MILLANI’d met Professor Rick Olsen at a conference a number of years ago. I’d listened, fascinated, as he told me of his doctoral thesis, which deconstructed the NBA draft as a "rhetorical text." He had all sorts of additional insights into basketball, so I arranged for him to join me at the 1999 draft at the MCI Center, to explain how the spectacle is really a narrative of hope—and why it engages us so.

One of Rick’s most reliable "characters" in every draft "narrative" has been the Los Angeles Clippers, the Shakespearean fool at whose expense fans of every other NBA team get a good laugh. Since 1999, however, the Clippers have actually undergone some character transformation. Rick may have to revisit his research.

Here’s Elton Brand, the top pick in the draft that year, in the ritual grip ’n’ grin with the commish.


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