ESPN Page 2 perpetuates the Nowitzki Myth
Here at Milwaukee Bucks Diary, we are dedicated to mythbusting. At least Bucks myths. And by far the greatest myth in Bucks history is the myth that the Bucks traded Dirk Nowitzki for Robert "Tractor" Traylor. Its simply not true, but because a cursory look at the facts makes it appear true, and because its a far better tale than the truth, the lazy and irresponsible continue to retell it.
This time the mistaken party is David Schoenfield of ESPN.com's Page 2 in his article "The 100 Worst Draft Picks Ever". His misconstruing of the facts is a more egregious offense than normal, however, because he is relying on the myth as the sole basis for his preposterous claim that the Tractor Traylor draft choice was the 6th worst draft choice of all-time in any sport. Its a ridiculous assertion
SIDEBAR: Schoenfield's article appears to have an anti-Bucks bias. When it cites the Stephon Marbury draft choice as the 50th worst pick of all time, he credits the Bucks with making the pick. OK, fair enough, the Bucks did technically make the pick. However, if he's going to do that, he can't also then credit the Bucks with selecting Traylor at no. 6 -- the Mavericks technically selected him at 6. You have to be consistent. The Bucks traded Marbury in the same manner that the Mavericks traded Traylor. No difference. But Schoenfeld decided to treat the two picks differently, presumably to credit the Bucks with both picks. Or else he's just incredibly reckless with the facts.
Now to the myth. Here's how the whole deal ACTUALLY went down. In the 1998 draft the Dallas Mavericks selected No. 6 while the Bucks selected No. 9 and No. 19. Don Nelson of the Mavericks wanted Nowitzki very badly. He had no interest in Traylor. However, recognizing that Nowitzki would probably be available at a lower slot than 6, he rightly believed he could make a trade that would not only net him Nowitzki, but also get him a little something extra. That's just good drafting strategy.
The Bucks were perfectly situated for Nelson. No. 9 was about as low as Nelson could reasonably go if he still wanted to be fairly certain of getting Nowitzki, and it just so happened the Bucks had that extra pick, so they had something to offer. And Nelson knew the Bucks had an interest in Tractor Traylor. So Nelson approached the Bucks with the promise to draft Traylor at 6 for the Bucks if the Bucks promised to draft Nowitzki at 9 and Pat Garrity at 19. They did. The trade was made.
Here is the important point no one seems to understand or care about. HAD THE BUCKS NOT AGREED TO THE TRADE, THE MAVERICKS WOULD HAVE SELECTED NOWITZKI AT NO. 6. THUS, AT NO TIME DID THE BUCKS EVER HAVE NOWITZKI NOR DID THEY EVER EVEN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE NOWITZKI. The Bucks can be faulted for drafting Traylor, sure, but they cannot be legitimately slammed for trading Nowitzki, because they never actually had him. If you understand that the Bucks never had Nowitzki, I really don't think you can call drafting Tractor Traylor the sixth worst pick of all-time. The only player the Bucks really passed up for Traylor was Paul Pierce. That was bad, but it wasn't any worse than Denver drafting Raef Lafrentz at No. 3. They ACTUALLY passed on Nowitzki.
So you see how Schoenfield's ranking of the Traylor pick is based completely on a lie. I think its journalistically irresponsible for him to repeat the lie. He needs to do some more research before he compiles his little lists.