Posted by: Matt Sanchez on June 28th, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
I am living in New York City for the Summer and this past Thursday I was fortunate enough to work the Draft for the NBA.
My job was to work with the NBA Production team behind the scenes and to organize the show in the midst of all the chaos.
Most fans have no idea what happens behind the curtain or in the green room at the draft. I consider myself the biggest NBA fan around and have watched every draft since 1997 and I saw things I had no idea happened.
These are my random experiences working at the draft…
*Madison Square Garden is majestic when you are watching basketball, otherwise it’s really old and in desperate need of a face lift.
*I spotted at least 3 Jazz fans in the crowd.
*In the green room each of the players had a Gatorade bottle on their tables. However, they weren’t allowed to drink the stuff because they were simply there for product placement. To ensure they wouldn’t be drunk, I had to glue each bottle shut and then tell each of the players and their families (repeatedly) not to try opening them.
*On TV, Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t show a lot of emotion and seems to be a boring guy. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case and that’s simply his TV persona. An hour or so before the draft started, I found myself in a conversation (I did a lot of listening) with JVG and Ed Davis’ family. JVG was so talkative, cracking jokes and laughing hysterically-I mistook him for Jerry Seinfeld at one point.
*People backstage know each selection a minute or two before it’s announced. So, in my trusty headset I heard when each team called in their selection. I knew the Jazz’s selection before the world and was (like most people) in shock. Not necessarily that we took Hayward but that we didn’t take a big man. More on this in a future post.
*The names that get printed out for the draft board are printed by an amazing and huge printer. It takes literally 10 seconds to spit out a 3 foot sign.
*I had always wondered where David Stern goes and what he does in between draft picks. Now I know. He has a makeshift lounge set up for himself backstage with leather couches, flatscreens and caterers. The amazing part is Stern has meetings in between picks with CEO’s and very important looking people. It takes a couple of guys to interrupt his conversations and hand him a paper with the next draft pick on it, moments before the selection. He makes the most of his time.
*When I was able to sit down and watch the draft as a fan, I had a great seat right behind Ekpe Udoh in the green room. I didn’t know it at first but I ended up sitting right next to the Scott Drew head coach from Baylor University and Udoh’s head coach. Drew and I chatted about his star player and his future and by the end of the draft we were like old friends. I started to get a feeling the Jazz would draft Udoh and I would have this awesome story to tell. That wasn’t the case because the Warriors nabbed him at #6. If you look close at that video you can see my mug over Udoh’s back. White shirt. tie. smile.
*After Udoh was drafted, Drew asked me if I could get him a Warriors hat. The same as the players and families get. I wasn’t sure what sort of clout I held or if that was even possible. In the back there’s a nice lady manning a table loaded with hats from every team in the league. I kindly asked if I may have one for the draft picks college coach. She handed one over and I delivered the gift to the grinning coach. He then demanded to reward me with Baylor paraphernalia. I refused but he insisted on knowing my address. I gave in and I guess I will receive some hats and shirts in the mail. Anyone need one?
*I asked if I could announce the Jazz’s selection. They said I could pose at the podium instead. (Blurry to anyone else?)
*I never knew that my first encounter with Stuart Scott would be in a bathroom. I don’t know if it was the amount of people that had come in and out of the men’s room or if MSG is skimping on the paper towels but there was nothing to dry our hands with. Stu was drying off with toilet paper and when he was done, he handed me the roll and said, “It’s all we got!”
*Sometimes draftees that are not invited by the league attend the draft anyway. One of my primary jobs was to spot the potential draft picks in the crowd and keep an eye on them in case their names were called. A handful of them showed up and they were all drafted. But my personal favorite moment was after Greivis Vasquez was drafted by the Grizzlies, his whole family was in the stands. They cheered and amongst the commotion, his mom hugged me as part of her celebration! I may have let out an abbreviated yell as part of the excitement.
*It’s really cool to see players show emotion when their dreams of getting drafted come true. Just minutes before the draft, I witnessed Xavier Henry and his dad crying with joy.
*Near the end of the draft, I happened to be walking backstage and saw Gordon Hayward standing up against a wall, all by himself. Just waiting to take pictures and go on to the next interview. I knew I had to take the chance to welcome the kid to the Jazz and talk to him. I asked him how he was feeling and what he thinks about getting drafted by the Jazz. He really is a quality person.
*I went back one more time and asked if the nice hat lady had any extra Jazz hats. She did.
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