There was no scouting network or million-dollar salaries when the Minneapolis Lakers played. Nor was there an Internet or an ESPN to spark interest.
The NBA draft has dramatically changed in the past few decades. The massive television coverage, the non-stop Internet rumors and other technology didn't exist when I personally did all of the drafting for the Minneapolis Lakers from 1946 to 1957 -- a team that won five NBA championships and one NBL title.
And, yes, it did change again when I did the drafting for the expansion Chicago Packers of 1961-62 and the Chicago Zephyrs of 1962-63 and for one year when the team moved to Baltimore for the 1963-64 season. But the draft process is nothing like it is today.
The Lakers weren't involved in a draft before the 1946 season. The result was the great George Mikan came to the Lakers because the team that had owned his rights, the Detroit Gems, finished last the year before. The Gems were the franchise purchased to bring pro basketball to Minnesota. And Jim Pollard, another Hall of Fame player, came aboard as a free agent.
The Gems were bought for $15,000 -- peanuts compared to what teams go for today. In the Lakers days, the draft wasn't televised. It was held in a hotel and representatives of each team sat at a table, similar to what the NHL does today. ESPN didn't exist and the draft got little notice except in NBA cities. Even the signing of a top draft choice didn't get much ink in the Twin Cities.
In those days there was a territorial draft, which gave the Lakers a big advantage. Even though the Minneapolis team had won championships, they were automatically awarded players like Hall of Fame Vern Mikkelsen and former Gophers greats like Whitey Skoog and others. Mikkelsen joined the team in 1949. That same year Slater Martin and Bob Harrison were drafted and the trio joined Mikan and Pollard on a team that had won the championship the previous season.
Mikkelsen signed for $7,000. Martin got $4,000 and Harrison for $3,500. Compare that to the millions the 2007 draft choices will be paid. The total Lakers payroll that year was $70,000 with Mikan getting $25,000 and Pollard $12,000.
The Lakers didn't employ any scouts in those days. The Lakers utilized college coaches such as Hank Iba of Oklahoma A&M (later Oklahoma State), John Wooden of UCLA, Adolph Rupp of Kentucky and Pete Newell of California. One draft I won't forget occurred in 1950, when the Celtics broke the color barrier by taking Chuck Cooper of Duquesne in the second round, causing Harlem Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein to cancel team appearances in all NBA arenas.
Yes, the NBA has come a long way from the old days when the Lakers started out in the National Basketball League, along with teams such as Oshkosh, Sheboygan, the Tri-Cities and Anderson, Ind.
KG sends regards
Torii Hunter, happy after hitting two home runs in the Twins' 8-5 victory over Toronto, looked into his locker and discovered a personally autographed Kevin Garnett basketball shirt with a message wishing Hunter and the Twins good luck on their big road trip starting tonight at Detroit.
It was a unique item, with all of the talk about Garnett being traded and Hunter feeling convinced he will be leaving the Twins as a free agent after this season.
"I mean sometimes you've got to move on and that's something that he probably needs to do," said Hunter about Garnett. "Somebody wants him and that's why he's in the trade talk, and I wish him the best no matter what. Garnett and me, we are friends."
About his own future, Hunter said: "I can't do nothing about it. I just work here, man. I'm just going to play baseball and have fun."
Hunter now has 17 home runs after hitting two Thursday. The Twins center fielder is hitting .306 with 62 RBI but says he started the season better in 2002. He hit .289 that season with 29 home runs and 94 RBI.
"It's pretty similar, but in 2002, I felt like I had David Ortiz hitting behind me," he said. "I had a guy hitting behind me so I got more pitches to hit and I was driving the ball a lot better."
And Hunter said it would help him if the Twins somehow could land another hitter. He said Rondell White could provide that needed extra punch when he gets healthy.
"This guy, he has thunder. It's not so much what he's doing as it is just being in the lineup and putting a little pressure on the pitcher," Hunter said. "Knowing that Rondell White is a home run hitter, a .300 hitter and just the threat of him being in the lineup, we need him."
Hunter has a reputation of swinging at bad pitches but feels he has improved.
|Baltimore||0||Top 1st Inning|
|Cleveland - S. Kazmir||12:35 PM|
|Boston - J. Lester|
|LA Angels - B. Buckner||1:10 PM|
|Kansas City - J. Guthrie|
|Colorado - J. Nicasio||3:05 PM|
|San Francisco - B. Zito|
|Minnesota - P. Walters||3:08 PM|
|Detroit - D. Fister|
|Chicago Cubs - T. Wood||3:10 PM|
|Cincinnati - H. Bailey|
|Pittsburgh - J. Locke||3:10 PM|
|Milwaukee - M. Fiers|
|NY Yankees - V. Nuno||3:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - M. Moore|
|Atlanta - M. Minor||6:15 PM|
|NY Mets - D. Gee|
|Philadelphia - J. Pettibone||6:15 PM|
|Washington - D. Haren|
|St. Louis - J. Gast||6:15 PM|
|Los Angeles - T. Lilly|
|Miami - R. Nolasco||6:15 PM|
|Chicago WSox - J. Peavy|
|Oakland - A. Griffin||6:15 PM|
|Houston - L. Harrell|
|San Diego - A. Cashner||9:10 PM|
|Arizona - W. Miley|
|Texas - D. Holland||9:10 PM|
|Seattle - F. Hernandez|
|San Antonio||8:00 PM|
|NY Rangers||4:30 PM|
|Toronto FC||6:30 PM|
|San Jose||7:30 PM|
|Real Salt Lake|
|Chivas USA||8:00 PM|
|New York||6:00 PM|
Poll: Who should be the next Twins starting pitcher to lose his job?