BROOKLYN — You know that scene in the Exorcist where Linda Blair’s head spins completely around? That was what it was like to be at the 2013 NBA draft.
David Stern got booed, then cheered heartily. Nerlens Noel sat slumped in his chair as the second, third, fourth and fifth picks were called — and his name was not attached.
All around the Barclays Center, the buzz was not about the draft, the surprise selection of Anthony Bennett at No. 1, or the trade that sent Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for Noel and a future first-round pick. (Noel, at his press conference, actually said he was looking forward to playing with Holiday, unaware that he had been traded for him).
There were a record 12 international players taken in the first round, Indiana’s Cody Zeller was actually the first center taken, and the Utah Jazz snapped up the best point guard available — something they had been secretly planning since February, to do whatever to would take to get their hands on Trey Burke. They also made a trade with Denver for French center Rudy Gobert, he of the 7-foot-9 wingspan who may be the heir apparent to Enes Kanter a few years down the road.
And near the midpoint of the second round, Brooklyn Nets president Billy King held a press conference at which he would not mention the names Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce — the two members of the Boston Celtics he agreed to acquire in the biggest deal of the day.
Yes, it left your head spinning.
The big winner (aside from the Nets) in all of this was the Canadian National Team, which will have the No. 1 picks in 2013 (Bennett) and 2014 (Andrew Wiggins) playing for them in the 2014 World Cup and possibly the 2016 Olympics. But by the time 2020 rolls around, a team that will include Tristan Thompson, Kelly Olynyk, Andrew Nicholson, Cory Joseph, Wiggins, Bennett and a few other up-and-comers could very well pose a serious threat to Team USA for the Olympic gold medal.
But that is eight years away.
For next year, the news of the night was the trade agreed to by Boston and Brooklyn that will give the Nets a starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez. That right there is a team that can compete with the Heat.
The surprise of the night was the Cavs’ selection of Bennett, who was atop nobody’s Mock Draft, as the No. 1 pick
“I was as surprised as anyone else,” the UNLV power forward said.
Here’s something that should not come as a surprise: Mikhail Prokhorov has said he will do whatever it takes to bring a title to Brooklyn,. and he now has a team with a $100 million payroll and an $80 million luxury tax bill. He is the new George Steinbrenner.
Garnett waived his no-trade clause after the Nets agreed to fully guarantee the $12 million owed him for the 2014-15 season, the third year of his contract. Garnett also wanted a chance to join his close friend, Pierce, in playing for longtime rival and incoming Nets coach Jason Kidd. Jason Terry also will be coming to Brooklyn as part of the deal.
The trade can’t be made official by the NBA until July 10.
The outgoing package sends Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and three future first-round picks (2014, ’16 and ’18) to Boston. The Celtics also will have the right to trade first-round picks with the Nets in 2017 if the Nets have the higher pick.
The draft lasted 4 1/2 hours until deputy commissioner Adam Silver — who was booed when he came onstage to join Stern following the final pick of the first round — announced Janis Timma of Latvia as the 60th and final pick, by Memphis.
I have never been to a draft that lasted nearly that long, and I have never been to a draft that had so many surprises, sideshows and subplots. We’ll be analyzing it all on SheridanHoops on Friday, including the winnrs and losers of the trades by Shlomo Sprung, a look at the impact the international draftes will have by A.J. Mitnick — and which of them ill remain Eurostashes, along with an autopsy on the tearing down of the Celtics, who have lost Doc Rivers and are about to lose Garnett and Pierce, two of their guys who bled green.
Sort of like Linda Blair, who puked green.
But Garnett and Pierce will be wearing black and white next season, a season in which those who are green with envy at what the Miami Heat have accomplished will take their best shots at preventing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat from three-peating.
The team that might just have the best chance is the Nets, a team that played host to a bizzarro night in Brooklyn that won’t soon be forgotten.
(RELATED: The 16 Draft Night Trades, Completed and Incomplete)
Chris Sheridan is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Sheridan Hoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.