Adrian Wojnarowski won the 2018 NBA Draft. He may be the only man to win the NBA Draft, ever.
Every year, media outlets purport to know the winners and losers of the draft, but they never have, they’re simply guessing at a subjective, unknowable outcome years down the road, as if that’s what’s important on nights like Thursday night.
But they don’t know the game. They never knew the game. Woj knows the game. And he is now its first and forever champion.
Source: The Lakers are unlikely to resist Mo Wagner with the 25th pick.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
If you’re not sure what the hell is happening here, that’s fine. This is a deeply esoteric sports joke.
Every year, the NBA and NFL drafts are overanalyzed to the quark level for weeks (or, in the NFL’s case, months) before they actually begin. Millions of mock drafts are written, nudging players up and down the draft board based on “sources” that never need to be publicly vetted because it’s understood among fans and media outlets that: 1) everything will be different if you wait a week, and 2) that in the scale of time, no one — absolutely no one — will ever again care what “sources” in May said about the Jazz at Pick No. 21.
True, the NBA Draft is significant in determining how franchises will perform for years. But more importantly, it’s a frenzy for frenzy’s sake. And the epitome of the absurdity is the way that NBA insiders stumble over each other to compete to be the first person on Twitter to leak a draft pick before it has been announced.
Woj is the best insider sports reporter that there has ever been, in any sport. Many have tried, but no one in the NBA has come close to being as consistent, accurate, and eerily fast at breaking NBA news. And it was with great sadness that his employer, ESPN, seemingly tried to muzzle him. You see, ESPN is hosting live NBA Draft coverage, and it didn’t want its own reporter upstaging the broadcast by spoiling picks on the internet before they appeared on television.
And it would appear that Woj agreed to his employer’s terms. He didn’t spoil a single pick. Not. A. One. He had a lot of hunches though, and guess what, they were all spot on.
He could sense teams’ focus:
Memphis is locked in on selecting Jaren Jackson Jr., league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 21, 2018
Phoenix is determined to select Zhaire Smith with 16.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
And late in the night, their unbridled, escalating lust:
The Spurs are fixated on Lonnie Walker with the 18th pick, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
Source: The Sixers are enamored with Landry Shamut at the 26th pick.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
Source: Boston is tantalized by Robert Williams with the 27th pick.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
Woj’s dictionary seemed to contain every verb imaginable, all but “selects,” and that careful omission assured that all of his competition knew who was on top. One prominent young challenger tested him, and eventually gave up.
40 minutes. Unprecedented moment in the Woj-Shams rivalry pic.twitter.com/sewi4oaXoD— Adrian Kofnarowski (@KofieYeboah) June 22, 2018
All the while, Woj was thumbing his nose at his bosses, who hired him last year for an ungodly amount of money precisely because of his ability to know everything before anyone else. On Thursday night, Woj flexed his leverage over the Worldwide Leader, daring it to — I don’t know what. What could ESPN do? Suspend the most important Twitter account in the NBA in the midst of the sport’s biggest circus? Awkwardly ignore an important on-air personality?
Woj is too big to fail. He not only acknowledged the game he was playing, he showed that he (and he alone) can quit playing whenever he wants, throwing the very last scrap to his rival. In the process, he simultaneously acknowledged and dismantled the sanctity of an event that has only become dumber and louder and more bloated by the year.
He mocked his own profession, even.
Most sports insiders do their jobs with a funny sense of duty, as if Kevin Durant’s emotional state were a security concern. Adam Schefter is no Woj, but he hustled like hell to become one of the NFL’s leading source of breaking news, and so he rightly wears that status with nice suits, prim hair, a perfect TV speaking cadence, and a wooden sense of humor.
Which is to say, that Schefter got into the business for glory. What Thursday demonstrated was that Woj has no taste for the fine life; that he is doing his job for sport. He likes the rush, the taste of blood. And nothing can stop him except his own boredom at a game that has become much, much too easy.
Source: Portland has a laser on Anfernee Simons.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 22, 2018
A LASER. This man is a goddamn Predator. He is a hand to a mosquito, or a Karl-Anthony Towns to this poor child. If you think you’ve got him beat, that just means he’s toying with you.