Ballin' and stealin'

Sports blotter: special NBA draft edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  June 28, 2006

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Rashad Anderson's crime was without precedent

For those of us Boston sports fans who are not too broken up by last week’s weed-and-brass-knuckles arrest of former New England Patriot Rabih Abdullah — probably the dumbest Patriot incident since the Kenyatta Jones era — the time has come to take a jurisprudential look at the upcoming NBA draft. The annual pre-draft buzz has long since replaced the playoffs as the chief spring pastime of the Celtics’ increasingly inconsolable, angry fan base. Instead of watching ’Nique and Larry duke it out in the fourth quarter of game seven, we slobber over crudely planted reports that Al Jefferson has discovered the bench press and we pray, actually pray, that come June, Ainge will hit a homer. This is what it means to be a Celtics fan these days, and it’s a tough business, made more difficult by the hideous peculiarities of the NBA amateur draft.

Unlike in professional football, where it is sometimes desirable that your draft choice be a felon (or at least act like one), in the NBA the discovery of even one knife-wielding criminal on your roster can sink your franchise’s fortunes for years to come. Fast as you can say Eddie Griffin or Vin Baker, a thriving sports franchise can splinter and sink to the ocean floor, where not even James Cameron will discover it again.

All of which makes scouting the behavioral predilections of the new talent that much more important. This year’s crop is the worst conceivable combination — low in talent and comparatively high in past-extracurricular incidents. For the Celtics, who at the moment will pick in the number-seven slot, the only player with an ambiguous past who could conceivably fall to them is UConn’s razzle-dazzle point guard Marcus Williams, who famously helped launch last year’s laptop-theft trend. A short list of this year’s060609_blot1 draft miscreants:

Daniel Horton, G, Michigan:
A meat-and-potatoes point guard with a nice size and a long wingspan, which he used two years ago to choke his girlfriend, resulting in a 2004 Valentine’s Day assault conviction. Horton is a bearer of the great Wolverine-indictment tradition that dates back to the Fab Five days.


Eric Hicks, F, Cincinnati:
No draft is complete without a Cincinnati Bearcat with an arrest record. Sadly, Hicks never punched a police animal. (Fellow Cincy alum Art Long allegedly punched a city-police horse named Cody; the same animal would be victimized in another assault involving a peace protester years later.) But he was arrested for allegedly throwing a beer bottle at a woman in a bar, a crime popularized by Glen Rice and recalled in the roadside end of onetime-NFL-player Justin Strzelczyk, who threw a bottle at pursuing police before crashing into a tanker truck in Herkimer, NY, in ’04.

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