The allegations could all turn out to be false. But it got us thinking: Is Eddy Curry in danger of going down as having the most embarrassing career in NBA history? To recap: Curry was picked fourth overall in the (very weak) 2001 draft; is almost always out of shape; got traded to the Knicks in a trade so bad it became a running joke and serves as a primer for how not to run a team; was basically banished from the Knicks (along with Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury) upon the arrival of a real NBA coach and GM; was sued.
If he retired now, he'd be in the running for the "most embarrassing career" award. But this got us thinking about the most embarrassing draft picks (other than Curry) of the last 20 or so years. Not run-of-the-mill busts like Sam Bowie or Chris Washburn or Joe Barry Carroll, or high picks that turned out to be only so-so NBA players (such as Joe Smith). No, these are players who, when you hear their name, you can immediately conjure up a single, humiliating image, nickname or sequence of events that defines their career. Players like...
10) Darko Mlicic, #2 overall selection (Detroit), 2003.
He's never averaged over eight points per game in the league, but even if he has a couple of solid seasons it won't matter. He was The One, the player who would prove international big men with silky jumpers and a deft handle could thrive in the NBA despite questionable toughness. He would prove Joe Dumars' wisdom in choosing Him over Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony. Instead, we got two seasons of classic "Darko Pouts on Bench" photos that inspired a landmark basketball Web site and gave Bill Simmons free reign to mock Chad Ford forever.
Players taken later: See above.
9) Frederic Weis, #15 overall pick (Knicks), 1999.
Because it was the Knicks. But mostly because of this. (Watch for the hysterical Vin Baker cameo).
Players taken later: Ron Artest, Andrei Kirilenko, and Be the Three fave James Posey).
8) Bryant Reeves, #6 overall pick (Vancouver Grizzlies), 1995.
Remember when the Grizzlies played in Vancouver? Then you probably remember the time Reeves showed up to camp 40 pound overweight. And you probably remember when the Grizz signed Bryant Reeves to a 6-year, $65 million contract that, as one writer put it, may have single-handedly "killed basketball in Western Canada." Awesome. (Note: In Reeves' defense, he put up a 16-8 for one season in his prime).
Players taken later: Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas are the best of a sad, sad draft.
7) Charles Smith, #3 overall pick in 1988 (by Philadelphia, which immediately traded Smith to--who else--the Clippers in exchange for Hersey Hawkins).
This is a personal pick. Smith was a solid NBA player for nearly a decade, and averaged over a 20 per game twice (albeit for the Clips). But we will always remember him for this catastrophe. If you'll recall, this was the season ('92-93) when everyone thought the Riley Knicks, the top seed that year, were going to take down Chicago after pushing them to seven games the year before. Being a snotty little 15-year-old Knicks hater, I decided to take advantage of the Knicks euphoria spreading over my hometown in Connecticut and make a few wagers (against the Knicks) with my Knick fan friends. Boy were they crowing after the Knicks won games 1 and 2 at home. I quoted Riles back at them: "It's not a series until the road team wins." Chicago held serve in games 3 and 4, which set the stage for what remains my favorite Marv Albert call of all time in game 5.
Players taken later: Mitch Richmond, Rony Seikaly, Dan Majerle
6) Pervis Ellison, #1 overall pick in 1989 (The Kings. I had forgotten this. I assumed it was the Clippers).
Never Nervous Pervis did average 20 a game for Lez Boulez in '91-92 and 17 a game the year after, but that was about it for him. He missed huge chunks of games for our beloved C's in the mid-1990s after hilariously dropping a coffee table on his foot, earning the nickname "Out of Service Pervis" from Danny Ainge.
Players taken later: Tim Hardaway, Sean Elliott, Stacey "Burger" King, Shawn Kemp
5) Harold Miner, #12 overall pick, 1992 (Miami Heat)
This one makes me sad, because the humiliation associated with Miner (you think "Baby Jordan" instantly) is more our fault than his. He was the first "Next Jordan," and he collapsed under the pressure like all the others (though he did defeat Isaiah/J.R. Rider in the finals of the Slam Dunk Contest in 1995). His college coach at USC, George Raveling, once said, "I always thought the worst thing to happen to Harold was the 'Baby Jordan' tag.'" We agree. By the way, am I only one who thinks that analysts overrated Miner in part because he's a lefty? They just look so much smoother doing anything.
Players picked later: Doug Christie, Latrell Sprewell
4) Michael Olowokandi, #1 overall pick, 1998 (Who else? The Clippers).
Bill Simmons once called him the "human Ebola virus." League observers thought he was lazy, and he did nothing to distinguish himself over a nine-year career. Wait. Nine years? This guy stuck in the league for nine years? That doesn't seem possible.
Players picked later: Where to even start? Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Mike Bibby, Vince Carter, Michael Doleac
3) Qyntel Woods #21 overall pick, 2002 (Portland)
Before you ask how someone picked so low could be ranked so high here, admit that you thought either "pit bulls" or "Jail Blazers" right when your read his name. Before Michael Vick became the most hated dogfighter in sports, Woods pleaded guilty to animal abuse for staging fights between pit bulls at his house in Oregon. He was also arrested on marijuana charges in a separate case. Of course, since this was the Jail Blazers, it couldn't just be a simple marijuana arrest. As the outstanding Blazers blog Deceptively Quick reminds us, cops pulled Woods over for speeding, smelled pot and asked for his license and registration. Woods handed them a basketball trading card and a credit card. This is an actual true story.
The Blazers eventually waived him, and Woods bounced around the Celtics, the Knicks and the D-League before finding a home on the high-powered Greek team Olympiacos. He even helped Olympiacos reach the Greek league finals last season. Sweet redemption! Except Woods was caught using marijuana during the finals and waived for breaching his contract. He now plays in Italy.
In a weird way, Qyntel Woods is an iconic NBA player, the symbol of a brief era so reprehensible that Portland started making all its personnel decisions with the primary goal of getting players who are not like Qyntel Woods.
Players taken later: Tayshaun Prince, John Salmons, Nenad Kristic
2) Shawn Bradley, #2 overall pick, 1993 (Philadelphia).
Because he looked funny, and because every player in the league made it their goal to dunk on him at some point. ESPN actually aired a montage of the top 10 dunks on Shawn Bradley. You can watch it here. It's sort of mean.
1) Kwame Brown, #1 overall pick, 2001 (Washington Wizards)
It has to be Kwame Brown, because he didn't just take himself down--he took down Michael Jordan, too.
Here is what MJ said after the Wiz drafted Kwame: "We don't know what he is capable of doing." Sounds like as good a reason as any to draft someone! Doug Collins, then the coach of the Wizards, told reporters that Brown had encouraged the Wiz to draft him by telling Collins, "If you draft me, you'll never regret it." Which is kind of true, because they somehow convinced the Lakers to take Brown and Laron Profit (?) in exchange for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins. That's an Isiah-like deal.
Before the trade, MJ had his infamous comeback season, during which he once called Brown and anti-gay slur, according this book by a Washington Post writer.
In LA, Phil Jackson routinely questioned Brown's work ethic and called him a sissy. Brown has averaged 7.2 points per game for his career, and is pouring in 3.7 ppg this year in limited minutes for the Pistons.
This man has earned more than $42 million in his NBA career.
Oh, and he also threw a stranger's birthday cake at his head for no reason. He was not prosecuted.
Players taken later: Jason Richardson, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Joseph Forte, Tony Parker