Back in the 70’s the NBA was coming out of an era of stardom that was giving the league a good foundation. You had players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, Rick Barry, and many more stars. Basketball was becoming a traditional sport next to its peers of football and baseball and was gaining respect, which is why it makes no sense that in the peak of it, one of the laziest drafts of all time occurred. The draft had ten rounds, now shortened to two rounds almost fifty years later, and only 65 of the 220 players selected ever stepped on an NBA court. Besides a lot of awful players or hail mary’s in late rounds, there were four selections that make this the oddest draft in NBA history, and in any sports draft history for that matter.
Pick 137: Lusia Harris
With the 137th pick in the draft the New Orleans Jazz selected Lusia Harris, a 6’3″ center out of Delta State University. Lusia Harris played for the women’s basketball team and would’ve been the first female NBA player and only the second female drafted after the Warriors drafted Denise Long in 1968. In Lusia’s four years at Delta State, she had scored 2,981 points, 1,662 rebounds, averaging 25.9 points per game along with 14.5 rebounds per game, an insane stat line in either men’s or women’s basketball. Lusia was drafted and invited to the New Orleans Jazz training camp, with one unknown, glaring error. Lusia was pregnant. After the New Orleans Jazz found out Lusia was pregnant, they declined her invite to the training camp, and cut her before she ever got to be on the team. Lusia went on to play a season for the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League, and is considered to be one of the first female pioneers of basketball. Lusia now has a spot in the Delta State Hall of Fame, was the first woman to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Pick 139: Bruce Jenner
With the 139th pick in the 1977 NBA draft, the Kansas City Kings selected olympic decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner. Before Jenner was a gold medalist, she played college football for the Graceland Yellowjackets, and after sustaining a knee injury switched to the decathlon. Jenner had a six-year decathlon career, winning the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, being awarded a gold medal in the process. Jenner was selected a year after his olympic triumphs, being deemed the “world’s greatest athlete,” despite not picking up a basketball since high school. Jenner was given a jersey with the number 8618, his olympic score a year prior. Even though Jenner was drafted, she never was signed as an active player on the Kings, more as a publicity stunt and joke with the Chiefs after they said they would select the “best athlete available,” in the upcoming draft. That same year, Jenner was put on a Wheaties Box, one of the greatest sponsorships an athlete can get. Caitlyn Jenner was assigned male at birth, and came out as a trans woman in 2015. In January 2017, she underwent sex reassignment surgery, and has been named the most famous transgender woman in the world. Caitlyn’s accomplishments go much farther than sports, and we over at Five Borough Dispatch commend her for her bravery and her part in bringing attention to the transgender community, thank you Caitlyn.
Lakers and Celtics picks…
The most storied rivalry in sports history came out to see who could get weirder during this draft. The Celtics drafted a water boy. Yes, a water boy. He was never signed to a contract, but still, they picked a water boy in the NBA draft. While this is for sure odd, the Lakers certainly won this battle of oddity.
The Lakers tried making two selections, both denied by the NBA. First off, the Lakers tried to draft Scooby-Doo. I love Scooby-Doo, and I do think the cartoon character would’ve gotten a bucket wearing the yellow and purple, and this is my favorite draft pick of all-time. The NBA denied this pick, mostly because, well, Scooby-Doo would never be able to play for the Lakers (no matter how bad we wanted it). So, to make up for their comedy, the Lakers drafted a wooden chair. The NBA again said no to no one’s surprise, but everyone got a laugh out of the comedic selections by the Lakers. Now, Scooby-Doo and a chair are pretty bad, but I guarantee they would give LeBron James more help than the 2018 Cleveland Cavaliers ever did. That is easily the oddest and wackiest draft in NBA history, hope you enjoyed reading, Shaney out.