Crystal ping pong balls
By Dan Shanoff
Special to Page 2

Looking for predictions about which team will win the NBA draft lottery (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)? Try's fun-for-hours "LeBron Lottery" game.

Want a real forecast? Keep reading for a glimpse into the future: What will LeBron's long-term fortune be with each of the 13 teams that might win the chance to draft him?

LeBron James
After getting the best of the 16-year-olds, LeBron is ready for the NBA.
Denver Nuggets (22.5% chance)
In five years ... LeBron's baby-blue No. 23 jersey (a design change made coincidentally during his rookie season) has been the league's No. 1 seller for five straight years. Otherwise, things went downhill when he changed his nickname to "LeLe" to pair it up with teammate "NeNe" Hilario. That snowboard accident after his All-Star soph season didn't help, either. "X-Bron" -- what a marketing miscalculation that was!

Cleveland Cavaliers (22.5%)
In five years ... From the team's perspective, what's not to love about nightly sellouts to see the hometown hero? But the high hopes for the "We're So Gellin'!"-marketed backcourt of LeBron, Ricky Davis and Dajuan Wagner never really panned out, and the team has found itself enjoying the lottery drama every year since LeBron's arrival.

Toronto Raptors (15.7%)
In five years ... The taxes! Oh god! Those Canadian taxes! That $75 mil in shoe money ended up being about a quarter of that after LeBron paid a King James ransom to -- hmmph! -- subsidize the country's health-care system. And no amount of money could make the experience of playing alongside Vince Carter bearable. Say, does Orlando have any cap room?

Miami Heat (12%)
In five years ... Fast cars. Sunny beaches. Sick women. The Holy Trinity for any high school graduate on the skip-college plan, leading to many SoBe adventures. Ol' Riles finally retired from ref-induced stress, but LBJ wasn't shaping up to play any D anyway. One-time team star Caron Butler is still sulking, but has been spied around town with Gloria James.

L.A. Clippers (8.9%)
In five years ... After Billy Crystal bought the team in 2004 from notorious tightwad Donald Sterling, he promptly signed Kobe Bryant to a max contract, teaming the league's best player with its most overrated (not revealing which is which?). Needless to say, the Jordan-Pippen replica combo lured Phil Jackson out of retirement, but Kobe's mission to average 40 ppg has put a cramp in his teammate's style.

Memphis Grizzlies (6.4%)
In five years ... After LeBron moved into Graceland, things really picked up for the franchise. A couple playoff appearances meant home games moved into Tennessee's Neyland Stadium (capacity 140,000), plus the long-awaited team name change: "The Memphis LeBrons Sponsored by FedEx Ground."

Chicago Bulls (4.4%)
In five years ... In the nick of time, the void both in Oprah's life and for daytime TV viewers everywhere now that she's retired from her talk show, is filled by her new husband, who the media has affectionately nicknamed "LeBrOprah." His debut show topic? "Continually Dysfunctional Pro Basketball Teams and the Fans Who Keep Coming Back for More."

Atlanta Hawks (2.9%)
In five years ... The Hawks really hit the jackpot when new owner David McDavid moved the team to Vegas, where LeBron joined Celine Dion in a new two-person musical extravaganza. Alas, the on-court Dickau-James "dream duo" never really lived up to the ... well, non-billing. The city's over/under on Hawks' season win totals continues to be 20.

LeBron James
The Big Apple is all yours LeBron, as long as Stern picks the envelopes.
New York Knicks (1.5%)
In five years ... For the 1,827th straight day, the back page of the New York Post shouts "LeBron Rules!" The Garden remains the place to be on game night, even though LeBron, Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell have played the same position for five seasons. However, as expected, living in the media capital of the world has produced its advantages, if not titles: James has been a regular on "Law & Order" (renamed "LeBron & Order") for two seasons, he won a Tony Award for his role as "Danny Zucco" in the '05 revival of "Grease" and he opened up a successful Union Square restaurant with Britney Spears ("Akron Palate").

Washington Wizards (1.4%)
In five years ... Abe Pollin managed to screw the "new Jordan" as nicely as he did the original, and LeBron has already confirmed that he'll leave the team for free agency as soon as humanly possible. But he may have reason to stay: Republicans, looking for a Presidential candidate to succeed George W. Bush, are holding their convention at the MCI Center. Coincidence? "LeBron for President?" Stay tuned.

Golden State Warriors (0.7%)
In five years ... Mike Dunleavy Jr. hasn't been off the bench and into a game since LeBron showed up for the 2003 summer league. But that isn't important now that LeBron is single-handedly reviving the Bay Area's dot-com industry.

Seattle Sonics (0.6%)
In five years ... In a meteorological miracle, it has been sunny and rainless in the state of Washington since May 23, 2003. Grunge has returned to national prominence, thanks to a re-formed Nirvana fronted by rocker "LBJ." Even Gary Payton returned to enjoy a second career as a Sonic, throwing lob after lob to his new main man.

Memphis Grizzlies, via Houston (0.5%)
In five years ... Though they claimed LeBron with this slimmest of slim chances (from the Rockets as part of the Steve Francis trade), things fell apart immediately following the lottery drawing when Jerry West had to leave the team to fulfill his end of the bargain to become President and GM of the Hell's Snowball Fighters.

Dan Shanoff is a columnist for Page 2. His "Daily Quickie" commentary appears every weekday morning.



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