The NBA Draft Lottery is the league's way of ensuring that the team that finishes a given season with the worst overall record isn't guaranteed to receive the first overall pick. The system isn't perfect; it doesn't prevent teams from tanking to secure the highest possible odds of winning the lottery, and the picking of ping pong balls out of a machine isn't exaclty riveting to watch.
The actual drawing takes place off the air before the televised event, but the drama during the broadcast and the reactions of team representatives can still produce some extremely entertaining results.
Here's a ranking of seven of the best moments in NBA Draft Lottery history.
NBAE/Getty ImagesNoren Trotman
2016: Dikembe Mutombo congratulates the Sixers four hours before their lottery win
Half the fun of the Draft Lottery is the conspiracy theories that go along with it, and former Philadelphia 76er Dikembe Mutombo fed that machine in 2016. He tweeted (and later deleted) congratulations to the Sixers on winning the lottery about four hours before they eventually did.
"I want to let people know there was no conspiracy," Mutombo told The Associated Press in a phone interview, saying it was a mistake and that he thought "a lot of people understood the error that was made."
1988: Clippers GM Elgin Baylor reveals a Danny Manning jersey after winning it
The Draft Lottery was four years old in 1988, and the team that finished with the worst regular-season record had never won it up to that point. But Clippers GM Elgin Baylor was so confident L.A. would be the first that he brought with him a Clippers jersey with Danny Manning's name on it (Manning was that year's consensus No. 1 pick) and showcased it immediately after the announcement was made.
"This is the happiest moment I've had since I've been associated with basketball," Baylor said at the time. "It's a great moment for the L.A. Clippers. My prayers worked. I had everyone praying every day and night. This is terrific."
1993: Orlando Magic win it for the second straight year
The Magic won the lottery in 1992 and selected Shaquille O'Neal with that year's No. 1 pick. They were much improved the following season, finishing with a 41-41 record which gave them only a 1.52 percent chance of winning it again.
But that's exactly what they did.
The Magic ended up selecting Chris Webber but immediately traded him for Anfernee Hardaway and a few future first-round picks. And the Shaq-Penny era was officially born.
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1996: Sixers president Pat Croce high-fives everyone
This is a great moment simply because of the raw emotion on display. Sixers team president Pat Croce didn't merely smile and quietly pump his fist when he walked to the podium after his team won the lottery in 1996, he went around the entire room and high-fived everyone who had technically just lost.
He had reason to be excited: Philadelphia used the No. 1 pick that year to select Allen Iverson.
2003: Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund cracks a joke after winning the LeBron James sweepstakes
Everyone knew that James was going to be the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. The only drama involved whether his hometown team would be the one making the selection.
But after the Cavaliers secured the pick, then-owner Gordon Gund told the audience, "We don’t know who we are going to pick.”
He could barely keep a straight face for a full second after uttering this ridiculous phrase.
2011: Cavaliers win, Timberwolves GM implies the lottery is rigged
The 2011 lottery gave us a heartwarming moment, as Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's son represented the team on stage. Nick, 14 at the time, was born with a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow, and his story combined with his personality became an immediate hit with the audience at home.
But after Cleveland secured the victory, then-Timberwolves GM David Kahn implied that the event was rigged in favor of storylines like these.
“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” he said. "Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow, and this year it was a 14-year-old boy [Nick Gilbert, the son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert], and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told [Utah Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor, ‘We’re toast. This is not happening for us.’ And I was right.”
1985: The Knicks win the right to draft Patrick Ewing, and the conspiracy theories run wild
The first-ever NBA Draft Lottery remains the most controversial to this day. The league was a shell of what it is now in 1985, and with a new television deal on the horizon and a game-changing big man in Patrick Ewing the coveted No. 1 pick, conventional wisdom said that commissioner David Stern and those in the league office had plenty of motivation to ensure the top pick went to the team in the nation's largest market.
There have been extensive features written on the event, and there are plenty of YouTube clips breaking down exactly how Stern appeared to be serching for a particular envelope to pull out of the tumbler. And while it seems highly unlikely that the NBA would rig what's supposed to be a random drawing live on national television, we'll never know for sure.
But these seemingly crazy discussions by rabid NBA fans over the announcement of the league's draft order make the event far more entertaining than those who came up with the idea ever dreamed possible.