At NBA Draft Party, New Picks Know How to Say Nothing

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Joakim Noah after getting picked by the Bulls. Photo: AP

Only hours after the 2007 NBA rookie class met the sweet relief of draft night — where, for the lucky few, a lifetime of physical labor and overbearing sports parenting finally paid off — the newly minted millionaires got their real first taste of life in the league: the 4th Annual NBA Draft Party at midtown megaclub Pacha, usually the stomping ground of guys who don’t need the top three buttons of their shirts. We’ve never been in the back hallways of an NBA arena after a game, but we can’t imagine the crowd was much different from last night, where the sheer number of booty shorts made us understand how Shawn Kemp has fathered somewhere between seven and twenty-seven illegitimate children.

Many of the night’s top draft picks trickled in looking bewildered and starstruck — but somehow already trained in the pro athlete’s ability to talk without saying anything. Al Horford, on being drafted (third pick, by the Atlanta Hawks) — “I’m excited” — sounded just like vets looking back on drafts past. (Hakim Warrick, Memphis Grizzlies: “It’s exciting.” Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets: “It’s a great feeling.” Speedy Claxton, Atlanta Hawks: “You get the monkey off your back.”) A fidgety Kevin Durant (second pick, Seattle Sonics) ambled in cautiously, looking like a shy teenager with bad skin; his management team, two kids he probably swapped spitballs with back in the third grade, made the executive decision that Durant wasn’t answering questions.

Wandering out of the club around 1:30, we ran headfirst into Corey Brewer (seventh pick, Minnesota Timberwolves) and his crew; Brewer was busily swatting away the attention of a blonde in a skintight black dress. Not more than a half a block later, his former University of Florida teammate, Joakim Noah (ninth pick, Chicago Bulls), was catching up to his fast-moving buddies. “The club isn’t going anywhere," he shouted to Brewer and company. "Thirsty motherfuckas.” They were kids fresh out of college, still acting like kids fresh out of college. There's a lifetime for stalled contract talks, petulant trade demands, and forced endorsement deals. —Amos Barshad