Column: Give me my draft pick back

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson gives center Brook Lopez (11) instruction during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in New York. The Nets won 107-107. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

I am a Brooklyn Nets fan.

I have written about the subject of being a Brooklyn Nets fan in this publication on two previous occasions, and I prefer not to dip into the same well too often. But I am upset, and completely devoid of fresh ideas. This is the last column I will write about the misery of being a Nets fan, so stick with me. Here it goes.

Give me my draft pick back.

The Nets don’t have their first-round draft pick this year (or next year). The Nets finished with the worst record in the NBA this season, earning the best chances at getting the No. 1 pick this year. The Boston Celtics own that draft pick (or more specifically, swap rights with their own pick).

That’s the situation, and even though articles like this must provide context, I am giving you the bare minimum. That’s all you get. You probably know this whole situation already.

Everyone knows this situation, because this situation comes up whenever the Nets are mentioned. The Nets don’t have their draft pick. The Nets don’t have their draft pick. The Nets don’t have their draft pick.

Repetition isn’t fun, is it?

I love the NBA, and I love the Nets. Watching the Nets lose game after game over the last two seasons, after several seasons in which they were competent but relatively unlikable, was wholly miserable.

Watching your favorite NBA team lose game after game shouldn’t be wholly miserable. The games are mostly miserable, yes, but they should come with the saving grace of a high draft pick. The gaudy Friday paycheck after two weeks of grueling labor, if you will.

Nope, not here. No wide-eyed daily trips to DraftExpress. No deep dives into the wonderful world of YouTube mixtapes. No fevered discussions over which highly-touted prospect would fit the best with the organization’s basketball philosophy.

In this Feb. 4, 2017, file photo, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, right, talks with Markelle Fultz during the team's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Either I’ve thoroughly depressed you, as I have myself, or you’re a Celtics fan whose grin is growing by the word. As it should! You get to speak the following names on a daily basis: Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson. You are very likely to have one of these potential superstars on your team next year. Assuming the lottery balls fall your way, as they likely will, because you are a fan of a Boston sports team in the third millennium.

Or you’re a Boston fan that feels bad.

(Thinking. And aping the Internet’s preeminent Boston sports columnist.)

You’re not.

No, I don’t particularly like the Celtics, and watching them participate in the playoffs (with a very high seed, by the way) is brutal, man. It sucks. Forget the cheap attempts to gain sympathy and the Boston low blows; it really, really sucks.

I would like to drop the snarky act and talk about something that means more than the ultimately meaningless trials and tribulations of my preferred sports team. That’s not a slight to sports: I do, obviously, believe that sports teams can be considered a significant part of one’s personal identity.

I am not a writer with any experience pushing farther than the public reputation of embattled wide receivers and the perceived emotions of rap stars, and I will not pretend to be one. I will also not pretend to be a good writer.

However, I am nothing if not a slavish devotee to my favorite things, and those include sitcoms that have taken left turns into more serious territory. My list of favorite things also includes blatant lampshading, for those seeking the reason for this lengthy preamble.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge celebrating the 2008 NBA championship. Ainge traded Boston's core players in exchange for future Brooklyn draft picks. (DGA Productions/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Through many, many jokes, and now three columns, I have attempted to make light of this draft pick situation. That’s the only way I know how to cope with the problems and challenges in my life. Humor is the ultimate medicine, and the only one I’ve found to be deeply, truly effective when it comes to fighting pain.

If I can make someone laugh with a joke about my most painful shortcomings, at least one person has derived happiness from them. One moment in my uneventful 20-year life has left me incapable of finding levity anywhere, and I consider that my darkest moment. Looking back on that situation now, there was humor to be found, and so I have vowed not to make that same mistake again.

The draft pick situation is an inconsequential worry when framed within the bigger picture. I should be thinking about the path my career will take, or whether I will find someone to spend the rest of my life with.

But the Nets mean something to me, personally, and that’s all that really matters. In that darkest moment, the Nets picked up a huge playoff win, and gave me a brief respite of tremendous joy that I could not find from anyone or anything, anywhere. I treasured that win, and still do. With the state of the franchise right now, a win of that caliber is unlikely to happen any time soon.

So I continue to cope with the fact that the Nets will not soon provide me with similar joy, and I do it with humor.

They would have screwed up the pick anyway.


Tyler Keating is associate sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering men’s basketball. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu. He tweets @tylerskeating.