Cheers and honking horns erupted in San Antonio Tuesday night, reminiscent of when a certain NBA franchise brought home several championships to the Alamo City.
But the celebrations were for another feat by that franchise, and one that might be chalked up more to chance.
Tuesday night was when the San Antonio Spurs won the number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, giving the team the rights to draft 19-year-old French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
Madalyn Mendoza covers all things San Antonio for Axios and joined the Standard to discuss what’s behind the hype for this potential turn in the Spurs’ fortunes. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: First off, for those listeners who might not be aware of how the NBA draft lottery process works and why this is such a big deal, can you explain how the how the Spurs came about getting the top draft pick? I understand that their chances of getting it were the same percentage as a couple of other teams, including Houston, right?
Madalyn Mendoza: Yes. So because we were one of the top – or actually I should reword that – we were the last three teams between Houston Rockets, the Pistons and the Spurs and each of the teams had a 14% chance of getting the number one pick. But that didn’t mean that any of the other 14 teams towards the bottom had that chance. So it was, as you can expect, pretty tense and nerves were shot, including my own. And so as the season came to an end, I think in April, the Rockets and the Spurs had to have a tiebreaker to see who would be, I think, the second…
Who could lose is the hardest is what it sounds like.
Yes. And the Rockets ended up winning, which still meant that the Spurs had the equal amount of chance. They just couldn’t pick lower than seven and the Rockets couldn’t pick lower than six. So a lot of technicalities, a lot of nerves. All of this surrounding this big night on Tuesday.
And it comes down to the little bouncing balls in the lottery.
Yes, all those ping pong balls. Yeah.