In the immediate aftermath of the 2007 NBA draft lottery, after the pingpong balls defied the Boston Celtics in their quest for a top pick, team co-owner Wyc Grousbeck promised that he'd never return to the draw room again.
On Tuesday night, he'll break that reactionary promise. But why the change of heart?
"The parade," said Grousbeck, referencing the team's championship celebration after the 2008 title season. While the pingpong balls denied Boston an opportunity to draft either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant in 2007, the Celtics were able to flip the No. 5 pick they settled for to Seattle for Ray Allen. That set the wheels in motion for adding Kevin Garnett to form a new Big Three with Paul Pierce. One season after a 24-win campaign left Boston with the second-best odds in the lottery (and a 19.9 percent chance at the top pick), Boston won 66 games during the 2007-08 season and raised Banner 17.
On Tuesday night, the Celtics -- equipped with the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick -- will have a 15.6 percent chance at the top selection.
At the 2007 lottery, Grousbeck wore a green pin-striped suit and a leprechaun-speckled tie that Red Auerbach gifted both him and co-owner Steve Pagliuca after they bought the franchise in 2002. The tie might return this year, but the suit will stay in the closet. Grousbeck has a new preferred accessory to wear in the draw room that he didn't have in 2007.
"I will be wearing my championship ring," said Grousbeck. "That is the one lucky charm I have in my life."
Grousbeck is quick to downplay the influence of the person representing the team behind the scenes. Said Grousbeck, "I actually don’t believe that who is sitting there has any influence. ... I actually believe it’s just pretty random and it doesn’t matter who is sitting there."
But Grousbeck is excited about having All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas on stage for the television reveal. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge playfully dubbed the 5-foot-9 Thomas Boston's leprechaun and Grousbeck liked when it was noted the potential symmetry of Thomas -- the 60th and final pick in the 2011 draft -- possibly fetching the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft for Boston.
"[Thomas has] had a career year, he’s an All-Star, his smile fills the room, he has great positive energy, he's a great guy," said Grousbeck. "And, actually, I just couldn't wait until next fall to see him again, representing the Celtics. Any time we can spend with Isaiah is a great time. I think he’s got luck all over him right now. He’s earned his year and his accolades, but you look at him and say, 'You’re a lucky guy.'"
While Grousbeck said he's less stressed about this year's event, in large part because the Celtics are coming off a 48-win season and only find themselves in the lottery because of the haul the team brought back when Garnett and Pierce were traded to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013, he also understands the advantage that fetching a top pick would provide the team in adding another impact player -- whether that's by utilizing the pick or trading it for established talent.
"This is a big moment for us and we definitely want it to go well [Tuesday] night," said Grousbeck. "But it’s just one piece of the puzzle."
Grousbeck thinks Thomas and the Celtics' young core has created an intriguing atmosphere in Boston. Ainge is equipped with a treasure chest of assets, including eight picks in this year's draft. And then there's third-year coach Brad Stevens.
"Everybody sees the stuff on the court and it’s amazing the after-timeout calls and everything else, the X's and O's, and the quiet, calm leadership," said Grousbeck. "But [Stevens is] getting a little more fiery. He’s talking to refs a little bit more. I think he’s growing into his role. I have complete confidence in him.
"But it’s what maybe you don’t see as an ordinary fan -- the way he is at practice, the way he is on the team plane, the way he is at community dinners, community appearances, the way he is with his family. A to Z, he’s the guy that we want to have coaching the Celtics."
Grousbeck is hoping this business trip to New York on Tuesday will help equip Stevens with the talent necessary to make the next leap in Boston's ascension back to true contender status.