Did the NBA rig the 1985 NBA Draft lottery so that the Knicks would be able to select Patrick Ewing with the No. 1 pick overall? It’s been more than 30 years now since that draft took place, and there are still people who will tell you that the league did. It’s one of the longest-running conspiracy theories in all of sports. And on his latest episode of The Big Podcast With Shaq, Shaquille O’Neal revealed that he believes the NBA is going to try and pull something similar this summer.
During the podcast, Shaq was asked if he thinks the 76ers are going to be able to land once-in-a-generation player Ben Simmons in the draft. The Sixers currently own the worst record in the league and, unless they go on a ridiculous winning streak between now and the end of the season, they’re likely going to have the best chance to win the top pick in the draft lottery, which would allow them to select Simmons. But Shaq told all the Sixers fans out there that they shouldn’t get too excited just yet.
“Philly can tank all they want,” he said. “They’re not getting the first pick. Ain’t no way they—whoever ‘they’ may be—is sending that young man to Philadelphia.”
Shaq went as far as to guarantee that the Sixers won’t win the rights to the No. 1 pick.
“All the great, great players in the league, the draft, there has been talk of a conspiracy theory,” he said. “All the way from Ewing to me to LeBron 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.”
So where will Simmons end up? Shaq is a part owner of the Kings, so he was obligated to throw Sacramento out as a possible destination (though it's worth noting that the Sixers have the right to trade picks with the Kings this season due to a trade made last summer, which means the Kings winning the lottery would actually benefit Philly). But he chuckled in a "Hey, you said it, not me!" kind of way when someone else suggested that the Lakers would end up with the top pick.
“Put it this way,” he said. “Somewhere sunny and exciting. That’s where [Simmons] is going.”
You buying the big man’s theory? You can check out the rest of his thoughts on the podcast here.
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