The 1998 NBA draft wasn’t as celebrated as say, the 2004 class, but when all is said and done, there could be as many as three future Hall-of-famers in that group. Then Philadelphia 76ers head coach Larry Brown could have gotten his hands on one of them but didn’t.
The Sixers had the opportunity to select Paul Pierce with the eighth overall pick in that draft (or Dirk Nowitzki who’s also available at that point), but they passed, instead opting for Saint Louis swingman Larry Hughes, not because of their similar first names, but because Brown promised Hughes he would draft him beforehand.
“We took Larry Hughes (with the eighth pick) because we thought we had a need,” the coach said Wednesday in an interview with Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fanatic, via MassLive.com. “But the reason we took Larry is I promised him when we interviewed him — we knew we were getting the eighth pick — I promised him if he was there at (No.) 8 we would take him.”
Hughes went on to have a respectable, 13-year NBA career, but it included stints with eight different teams and just two seasons with the one that drafted him.
Pierce, meanwhile, was snatched up by the Boston Celtics at No. 10 and proceeded to earn 10 All-Star selections and one NBA championship ring. His No. 34 is a lock to hang in the rafters at TD Garden when his career is all said and done, and he more than likely will earn enshrinement in Springfield as well — when he’s done abusing playoff opponents as a 37-year-old, that is.
Sometimes, you just have to break silly promises or best, make nothing at all.