NEW YORK -- Jerry Krause stole the spotlight from Michael Jordan at the NBA draft on Wednesday, dealing his best player -- Elton Brand -- to the Clippers for unproven 18-year-old center Tyson Chandler.
On a night when high school seniors were chosen first, second, fourth and eighth, the crowd at Madison Square Garden let out an astonished howl when commissioner David Stern announced the Clippers-Bulls trade.
It was the surprise moment of a night that saw Jordan make history by becoming the first NBA executive to select a high school player first overall as the Washington Wizards chose 19-year-old Kwame Brown of Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga.
Chandler, a 7-foot-1 center from Dominguez H.S. in Compton, Calif., went second before Pau Gasol, a forward for F.C. Barcelona, went third to Atlanta.
Gasol will eventually end up in Memphis with the Grizzlies as part of a trade that sent Shareef Abdur-Rahim to the Hawks for Lorenzen Wright, Brevin Knight and Gasol. That deal won't be official until July 18.
In another trade, the New Jersey Nets sent the rights to Eddie Griffin, selected seventh overall, to the Houston Rockets for the rights to their three first-round picks: Arizona forward Richard Jefferson (No. 13 overall), Stanford center Jason Collins (No. 18) and Pepperdine guard Brandon Armstrong (No. 23).
Also, Cleveland traded the rights to North Carolina center Brendan Haywood, the 20th overall pick, to Orlando for center Michael Doleac.
The Bulls used the fourth pick on another high school senior, Eddy Curry of Thornwood H.S. in South Holland, Ill. Curry averaged 22 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots for Thornwood, which went 31-1 last season. The 6-foot-11, 285-pound Curry was the MVP of the McDonald's All-America game.
''We had to give up an outstanding player and a guy I feel deeply about,'' Krause said. ''We got two young people in the first round we really feel strongly about, two building blocks.''
The Bulls, who had the youngest team in NBA history last season and won only 15 games, are now even younger after trading Brand, the co-Rookie of the Year in 1999-00. They also acquired forward Brian Skinner from the Clippers.
''We feel Tyson will be a very good player, but we wanted to get a veteran player, a proven player. Brand has proven himself. We know what we have,'' Clippers vice president Elgin Baylor said.
Brown, a 6-foot-11, 240-pound center from Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga., stood up and hugged his family before walking on stage, smiling broadly, and shaking Stern's hand.
Stern, who has proposed a minimum age of 20 for incoming NBA players, wore a smile of his own as he watched Brown become the youngest player ever to hear his name announced first at an NBA draft.
Six high school seniors made themselves eligible for this year's draft, and four were first-round picks.
Brown originally planned to attend the University of Florida before changing his mind when he learned he might be chosen among the top five. As a high school senior, he averaged 20.1 points and 13.3 rebounds and was selected player of the year in the state of Georgia.
''I guess I just made history. It's great. I've never been so overwhelmed and nervous in my life,'' Brown said. ''I'm now the representative of all high school seniors, and I have to show it wasn't a mistake.''
The Wizards considered trading the pick, but Jordan locked in on a player with enormous potential in a draft considered top heavy with big men.
''We were entertaining possibilities, but nothing could change our minds as to what he could do for the Washington Wizards,'' Jordan said.
Chandler, 18, has been a starter on one of the nation's top high school teams since his freshman season. Earlier this year, it was believed he and Curry might be drafted first and second overall. Now, they will be teammates.
''When I heard, I was just shocked. I sat back and said, 'Are you sure?''' Chandler said. ''It's really ironic, but it's a great opportunity for two high school players to learn and grow together. Hopefully we can start a new dynasty.''
The first player with any college experience to be drafted was Michigan State sophomore Jason Richardson, who went to the Golden State Warriors with the fifth pick.
College Player of the Year Shane Battier of Duke went sixth overall to the Grizzlies, whose move from Vancouver to Memphis is expected to be formally approved soon by the league's Board of Governors.
Battier averaged 19.9 points for the Blue Devils as they won the national championship last season.
''It may sound archaic, but I really enjoyed my four years,'' said Battier, the first college graduate selected. ''I have no hard feelings (about being chosen sixth), it's the nature of the NBA now. I think the Grizzlies got a hell of a player.''
The Nets selected 19-year-old Seton Hall freshman Griffin, and Cleveland used the eighth selection on high school senior DeSagana Diop of Oak Hill Academy (Va.), a 7-footer originally from Senegal.
The Detroit Pistons selected Charlotte freshman Rodney White with the ninth pick, and the Boston Celtics chose Arkansas shooting guard Joe Johnson with the 10th pick and junior college player Kedrick Brown with the 11th.
The Seattle SuperSonics, actively exploring trades involving All-Star guard Gary Payton, used the 12th pick on Yugoslavian forward Vladimir Radmanovic. The 20-year-old player kissed Stern on the cheek after shaking his hand.
The Nets-Rockets trade was announced at the end of the first round.
''I talked with Steve (Francis) and Cuttino (Mobley) and they're very excited,'' Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. ''We think it's a real good fit and we couldn't be happier.''
In trades involving second-round picks, the Magic fulfilled their obligation to send a future first-round pick to Denver by trading Omar Cook, who they selected 32nd overall, to the Nuggets.
Also, the Hawks dealt Maryland forward Terence Morris (No. 34) to Houston for a future No. 1 pick, and Seattle sent the draft rights to Bobby Simmons (No. 42, DePaul) to Washington for the rights to Predrag Drobnjak.
High school senior Ousmane Cisse of Montgomery, Ala., went 47th to Denver, and Cincinnati point guard Kenny Satterfield dropped all the way to 54th, where he was taken by Dallas.
© 2016. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us