Steven Adams positioned himself as an alternative to Nerlens Noel in the 2013 NBA draft.
But despite Noel dealing with injury issues, he was still viewed as the Cavaliers’ most likely selection with the No. 1 pick. Adams was rated lower in the lottery, though still high enough to get invited to the draft.
Before the big night, Adams got a suit from a tailor, who also serviced another draft prospect.
Adams in his new book, “Steven Adams: My Life, My Fight,” via Stuff:
When I walked into the room, the first thing I noticed was a Cleveland Cavaliers singlet laid out with the logo cut out. One of the women told me a player had asked for the Cavaliers’ logo to be sewn into the lining of his jacket. I thought that was bloody brave. No player knows for sure where they’re going to end up and no organisation knows for sure which player they’ll pick until they do it on the night. I had an inkling that I was going to go to Oklahoma City because of the way my visits there had gone, but I would never have dared tell anyone, let alone stitch the Oklahoma City Thunder logo into the lining of my suit.
I needed to know who the man was with the biggest balls in the draft. So while I was looking through the rack for my suit, I had a peek at all the other players’ outfits. All of them were pretty standard until I saw one that had a college team’s singlet number on one side of the lining and on the other was the logo of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I couldn’t believe this guy was that confident, and somehow I knew right then that the Cavaliers wouldn’t pick him first. The universe wouldn’t let anything work out that smoothly.
The Cavs took Anthony Bennet No. 1. He wasn’t the player with what instantly became a tainted jacket.
This guy’s table stared at the floor like someone had just died. I’ve never seen a group of people look so disappointed at such a joyous occasion. If the camera had cut to our table, it would have shown all of us with our mouths wide open, trying not to laugh. It was an amazing moment.
People seemed to feel sorry for him, but not me. We were all about to be recruited by an NBA team and live our dream. Not one of us deserved anyone’s sympathy. We were the luckiest guys in the world that night.
When this guy was finally selected, I watched as he flashed one side of his jacket and then held the other side shut while he shook David Stern’s hand on stage. There was an audible sigh of relief throughout the room when his name was read out, as if being selected in an NBA draft was some kind of torture.
Was it Noel? He certainly had the highest perceived stock leading up to the draft. And upon being selected No. 6 (by the Pelicans for the 76ers), he flashed a Kentucky jersey sewn into the left side of his jacket but never opened the right side:
Adams went No. 12 to the Thunder and has outperformed most of the players picked in front of him.
Noel went on to misread his value far more significantly than the player in Adams’ story did on draft night.
Adams and Noel are now teammates in Oklahoma City.