By Sid Hartman, Minnesota Star Tribune:
May 21, 2015 – On Tuesday, local NBA fans went wild when the Timberwolves wound up with the No. 1 choice in the 2015 draft.
The current NBA draft has changed from the days when I made every pick for the Minneapolis Lakers. The team’s first pick in the 1947 Professional Basketball League of America dispersal draft was center George Mikan, because the Detroit Gems had the worst record in the National Basketball League. A local group bought the Gems for $15,000, brought them here and renamed them the Lakers, and what a bargain that was. I was in charge of all the rest of the drafts until local businessman Bob Short bought the team for $150,000 in 1957.
My scouts in those days were college coaches such as Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp, Oklahoma State’s Hank Iba and Kansas State’s Tex Winter, among others.
In those days, there was no lottery like there is today. The team with the worst record got the first choice, but there also was a territorial draft where a team got the first chance to draft players who played within 50 miles of the franchise. That led to the Lakers landing outstanding players such as Hamline’s Vern Mikkelsen and the Gophers’ Whitey Skoog, Dick Garmakerand Chuck Mencel.
The territorial draft ended in 1965, and the lottery, with all of its great television, began in 1985.
One draft I will never forget was in 1952, when former Kansas All-AmericaClyde Lovellette announced he was going to join an AAU team called the Phillips 66ers and not turn pro. So every team passed him up, and the Lakers, with the final choice in the first round, took him.
A recess of the draft was called with all the other teams trying to kill the draft, because it meant the Lakers had Mikan and could get Lovellette. But after league lawyers ruled the draft legal, Lovellette played a year with Phillips and then joined the Lakers in 1953.
The other draft I will never forget was in 1950, when the Boston Celtics broke the Harlem Globetrotters’ monopoly of black players by draftingChuck Cooper of Duquesne. At the time, most NBA teams were relying on gate receipts from Globetrotters games, but the drafting of Cooper caused Globetrotters owner and head coach Abe Saperstein to cancel doubleheaders in NBA arenas.
Excerpt taken from article originally posted at http://www.startribune.com/grant-turned-down-coaching-chances-after-vikings/304513421/