Sacramento mayor stands in for Kings at NBA draft lottery
The first time Kevin Johnson was involved in the National Basketball Association draft, he was passed over by the Sacramento Kings. Now mayor of Sacramento, Johnson will represent the Kings at the NBA draft lottery Tuesday.
The lottery will be televised on ESPN during a pregame show just before Tuesday night’s playoff game in Dallas, when the Oklahoma City Thunder takes on the Dallas Mavericks in game one of the Western Conference finals. The draft lottery portion of the show, which determines the order for the NBA draft June 23, could begin as early as 5:10 p.m. Pacific time.
In 1987, Johnson was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who got the seventh pick in the draft. The Sacramento Kings had the sixth pick and could have chosen him. Instead, they drafted Kenny Smith, now a commentator on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”
Last week, the Maloof family, co-owners of the Kings, asked Johnson to stand in for the team after the former NBA All-Star-turned-politician led a full-court press to stop the team from moving to Anaheim. Johnson was honored to be asked to stand in for Sacramento when the league announces the draft pick order at the NBA Entertainment studio in Secaucus, N.J.
"He feels it’s an exciting opportunity to not just represent the Kings, but to represent the city of Sacramento and the entire region," mayoral spokesman Joaquin McPeek said.
Johnson left for the East Coast over the weekend and could not be reached for comment.
He was asked to take part out of respect for him and the office of mayor, Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said Monday via spokesman Alex Sigua.
“We hope that he can bring some luck to New Jersey and get us that first pick, so we’re depending on him to get it done,” Maloof said.
The 14 teams that didn’t make it into this season’s playoffs participate in the NBA draft lottery.
The Kings tied with the New Jersey Nets for the fifth-worst record in the 2010/2011 season. The Kings won a coin toss and now have the fifth-best standing for getting one of the top three picks, team spokesman Troy Hanson said shortly before flying to New Jersey for the event.
The actual lottery will be held in a back room, with one person from each team sitting in to watch the process. John Kehriotis, a limited partner in the Kings, will represent the team in those proceedings.
During the televised portion, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver will then unveil the draft order in reverse from 14 to one. Johnson will take a ceremonial role and sit in the Kings’ position during that part of the process.
Teams are usually represented by the team president or general manager. However, a player or former player, team owners, executives and coaches have also held the honor. But team owners can choose others to represent the teams as well.The Kings recently had a season ticket holder represent them at the draft lottery.
A draft lottery event for season ticket holders will be held at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Tuesday. Joe Maloof, guard Marcus Thornton, Head Coach Paul Westphal and Player Personnel Director Jerry Reynolds are expected to take part. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.
For luck in the draft lottery, the Catholic Maloof said he’s doing a nine-prayer Novena.
“A good friend of mine in Memphis, Tenn., calls me every day and we do a prayer each day for nine days,” Maloof said. “My mother taught me about the prayers many, many years ago. I’ve used them ever since and every once in a while, those Novena prayers come through.”
The team’s dismal standing this year will also help.
"All the teams have chances based on the win-loss record. The more losses you have, the better odds you will have a better pick," NBA spokesman Jon Hammond said.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.