While watching the 2008 NBA Draft last week, I could not help myself from drawing a connection between Brady Quinn and Darrell Arthur. Sure, they are not the same color and do not even play the same sport, but both had to go through the agonizing experience of having ESPN cameras flash their lights on the one-time college stand outs who were being passed up for what scouts had called inferior players preceding the draft. In the aftermath of Brady Quinn’s fall from being one of the first people chosen in the draft, very few attacked Condon for his performance in the episode. In fact, many were not surprised; Brady Quinn was not a lock to be selected in the top of the first round, and scenarios that included him being selected later than Brady would have liked had been suggested. Quinn suffering had a lot to do with poor planning by those who selected the players chosen to sit in the green room. Can the same be said in the Darrell Arthur ordeal?
Prior to last Thursday, and even on draft day, there was little spoken of a potential slip in Arthur’s draft stock. In fact, very few people would have ever believed that Arthur would not be the first Jayhawk selected. Brandon Rush is a stud, but there was no way that his name would be read before Arthur’s, right? Wrong. Brandon Rush was picked earlier than many analysts had predicted (at #13 overall), and Darrell Arthur slipped…very…far.
Kansas Men’s Basketball Coach, Bill Self, believed that Arthur had a chance of being picked right around #15 overall. He was more than a little displeased when his former forward was selected at #27. The difference between the slotted value of a #15 pick and #27 pick over the first two years of the contract is $1,118,060 (hence the title of this article), but that disparity grows even larger if a third and fourth year option is accepted by Arthur’s team.
Let the finger pointing begin! Bill Self did everything that he could for his former student-athlete when he noticed that Darrell Arthur was getting passed over for what he felt was absolutely no reason. He made calls to NBA team management and knew immediately that somebody dropped the ball. When Self found out that teams were ignoring Arthur’s name because “doctors wouldn’t let them take him” over a mysterious “kidney problem”, frustration and disappointment set in.
So, the question remains, who is to blame? Who dropped the ball? My first inclination was to point my finger at Darrell Arthur’s agent, Jerry Hicks. Darrell was recently tested by the Wizards, when nothing was found to be wrong with his kidney. The first thing that his agent should have done is make sure that every single NBA GM, President, scout, coach, and floor sweeper knew that Darrell was healthy and ready to wreck havoc in the paint. Here is Hicks’s story:
“We did the bloodwork on the morning of the 25th, and by noon, [Arthur's kidneys] were determined to be completely normal. I received a message from Washington — which is still saved in my voice mail in my office — that everything was normal. Philadelphia received word that things were normal. How this became an issue around the league is puzzling, to say the least.”
Why is it so puzzling? Rumor had spread that your client had potential issues with his kidneys, which was later dispelled for two out of thirty teams. What made you think that the other twenty-eight got the same information? I give permission to Arthur to believe that the other twenty-eight teams would get the word. He does not know enough about the basketball industry and hired an agent to cross every t and dot every i. There is absolutely no excuse that Arthur’s information was not disseminated to every club, just in case.
Jason Whitlock got it wrong. This is not about a young player making the mistake of leaving early for the draft. Darrell Arthur was projected as a late lottery pick and probably would have been had teams been properly informed that his “kidney problems” were unfounded rumors. Instead, the lesson that should be learned is that players and their advisors should take ultimate care in handling all situations and events leading up to the draft. If there is even an inkling that a rumor might be seen as true by only a single team, everything must be done to erase such ideas from others minds. When you are a potential lottery pick, in most cases you should not go back to school for another year. There is no insurance policy that will reward you enough money for a career-ending injury. I think that we are making a mistake by blaming Darrell’s fall on his early entry into the draft.