Is the NBA planning to rig the forthcoming draft just so the Los Angeles Lakers can draft Ben Simmons with the No. 1 pick and begin their revival? Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal thinks so.
According to O’Neal, “they” will do everything in their power to ensure that Philadelphia 76ers – who have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17 – will slip in the draft order. Who are “they”? O’Neal is obviously referring to NBA commissioner Adam Silver & Co.
On the latest episode of The Big Podcast With Shaq, the future hall-of-famer said, “Philly can tank all they want. They’re not getting the first pick. Ain’t no way they—whoever ‘they’ may be—is sending that young man to Philadelphia,” he said.
In fact, Shaq “guaranteed” that the Sixers won’t be winning the rights to the precious No.1 pick.
“All the great, great players in the league, the draft, there has been talk of a conspiracy theory. All the way from (Patrick) Ewing to me to LeBron (James) playing in Cleveland. So I’m guaranteeing Philly ain’t gonna get the first pick. I’m guaranteeing you that right now. Philly won’t even come close to getting the first pick,” added the former center, who won three rings with the Lakers.
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But Shaq wasn’t done there. According to him, Ben Simmons would be sent “somewhere sunny and exciting.” It’s very obvious that he’s hinting at the Los Angeles Lakers, who are projected to get the No. 2 pick per the latest lottery odds. Will the Lakers get their first No.1 draft pick since James Worthy? Or will Phoenix Suns or Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) pip them to the top pick?
Rigged Like 1985 Draft?
It’s widely acknowledged former NBA commissioner David Stern rigged the 1985 Draft so New York Knicks could draft Patrick Ewing. “How exactly he (Stern) knew what envelope held the Knicks’ name inside is debated but believers all agree that, somehow, Stern knew what team he was picking first,” writes Gus Turner of Complex.com.
A year before that draft, the New York Knicks finished with a record of 24-58 – the second-worst record during that season. Guess who has the second worst record this season? The Lakers. With 7 games left on their schedule, the 16-59 Lakers are set to finish with their worst record in franchise history. Will the NBA reward them with the No. 1 overall pick? Never say never.