So either the basketball gods are sweet folks with warm hearts and soft, fuzzy spots for the most downtrodden of franchises, or this latest NBA draft lottery provided additional elements for another Tom Clancy novel.
New Orleans jumps to No. 1?
Charlotte drops to No. 2?
"I knew it," DeMarcus Cousins hooted, playfully, while watching the lottery proceedings Wednesday at the Kings viewing party in a downtown restaurant. "I knew it."
Asked to elaborate, the Kings center laughed. "Ah, nothing. I'm just joking around. (The lottery is) always a little crazy. The only thing I care about is how we did, and we'll get a good player."
The Kings secured the No. 5 spot in the June 28 NBA draft which is consistent with a 2011-12 record that was fifth-worst in the league but those pingpong balls once again took a few funny bounces.
Based on the numbers, the embarrassingly pathetic Bobcats held a 25 percent chance of winning the pingpong battle and the opportunity to draft projected No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. Had the team with the worst record been rewarded with the top prize for the first time since Orlando drafted Dwight Howard in 2004, the 6-foot-10 forward from Kentucky would have been paired with Bobcats minority owner and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, though these days, maybe that's not such a good thing.
With an assembled roster that would have had MJ screaming about a lack of supporting cast during his luminous playing career with the Chicago Bulls, the Bobcats finished with a 7-59 record and the worst winning percentage (.106) in league history, accomplishing much of this in a mostly empty, state-of-the-art arena.
Instead, the Bobcats were the biggest losers again, this time plunked on the head by a Hornets franchise that leaped from No. 4 to No. 1, and until a few weeks ago, was owned by the league's 29 owners.
So pick a team the warm, fuzzy folks vs. the conspiracy theorists. This New Orleans-Charlotte finish offered enough grist to satisfy both camps, including: Accusations of conflict of interest inherent in league ownership of a franchise; Commissioner David Stern's decision to block the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, only to approve Paul's subsequent swap to the Clippers; the fact that the original Hornets franchise was owned by the maligned George Shinn, who relocated the team from Charlotte to New Orleans in a snit over an arena, only to relinquish financial control to the league.
But besides all of the above and there's plenty more, with the plights of Pau Gasol, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, etc. who isn't pulling for the Hornets to survive the financial devastation of Hurricane Katrina? And with New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson intervening out of a sense of civic duty?
We'll stick with the warm and fuzzies for the moment. If the outcome of this latest lottery wasn't quite as touching as a year ago, when 14-year-old Nick Gilbert delivered the No. 1 pick to Cleveland Cavaliers' fans jilted by LeBron James, it wasn't as crushing to Kings fans, either. Experience tempers expectations. The fans who crowded into the Firestone Public House on Wednesday seemed resigned to their reality: the Kings' recent lottery history isn't exceptional, but it could be worse.
Pervis Ellison, remember, was a No. 1 pick. But Tyreke Evans was a No. 4 selection, and Cousins, who should have been the overall No. 1 pick in 2010, instead was left dangling for the Kings at No. 5.
"I'm not disappointed, no, no, no, I'm not disappointed," insisted Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof, who watched the televised proceedings while squeezed into a booth across from coach Keith Smart and alongside the massive Cousins. "I like five. Hey, there's 25 other teams that wish they were five, right? I love five. I'm happy. We don't know what will happen. We're always looking to improve the team. We don't know what we're going to do. Some of these things just come up at the last minute."