The Steph Curry ultimatum
We often believe that the NBA Draft is one-sided, that NBA teams simply step up to the podium, name a prospect, and the player and team ride off into the sunset, happily ever after. But that is not the way it goes down. Rookie prospects, who have never taken a single shot in the NBA, have historically made their intentions known before the draft over which team they would and would not play for, simply by which teams they would be willing to visit for a pre-draft workout.
Just for a prime (but painful) example, the Minnesota Timberwolves had the chance to select point guard Stephen Curry, not once but twice, in the 2009 NBA Draft. At the time. the point guard was not a consensus sure-fire hit, but he was determined to play for a select handful of teams. Curiously, that got lost in the historic recount of the 2009 NBA Draft.
Worst draft fumble ever? I swear, the only adjectives known are superlatives.
Curry created his own conundrum
Of course, that story has been beaten to death already. It was more than just a misfire for the Timberwolves draft that played out. The Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn had just been hired but detailed the story in an article that he wrote himself for Sports Illustrated in June 2017.
"“And, in a much lesser known incident, it happened to me. In 2009, just days after my May 22 hiring as President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the agent for Steph Curry told me that Steph’s father, Dell, did not want his son to be drafted by Minnesota—“No offense,” as I recall Jeff Austin, his agent saying to me at the Chicago draft combine. Jeff Austin, who I’d known casually, had represented Dell Curry when he was a player. He had been handed Steph due to his connection to Dell and told me this was a family request. “I really need your help on this,” Jeff said, explaining why there would be no visit and perhaps even hell-to-pay. (As it turned out, this was the only time when I was with the Wolves that I ever ran into this type of draft problem.” – as per David Kahn as published by Sports Illustrated"
In the end, it was the willingness of David Kahn to look elsewhere in the 2009 NBA Draft that enabled Curry to be drafted by the Golden State Warriors. That kindness did not happen just once, but twice, in that draft. Now, it is David Kahn who is vilified as inept, and Steph Curry is simply a good-hearted kid who loved the game and just wanted to play for any team that would give him the chance. My how history has been rewritten.