I’ve already given my take on Phil Fairleigh’s potential, but with the 2014 NBA Draft fast approaching, I decided to gather some more impartial predictions of what Fairleigh can bring to the table. Here’s a motley assortment of these takes.
From Stephen A. Smith:
OK, everyone in the sports media who is breathing below the forty-ninth parallel inside the United States of America needs to take a lengthy inhalation and look in the mirror. I know that Joel Embiid is an “injury risk” because he has a “broken foot.” In fact, my very good friend, Erik Spoelstra, head coach of the Miami Heat and personal soothsayer, told me last night, as we were sharing a Turkish bath, that Embiid is literally the closest person in the draft to a homeless person. I accept this. I understand this. I have a concrete and indisputable understanding that this is a governable statement of truth. But that is NO REASON that ANY team in the NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION should begin to even CONSIDER PHIL FAIRLEIGH as the NUMBER ONE DRAFT PICK IN TWO THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN, THE YEAR OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.
From Bill Simmons:
I first heard of Phil Fairleigh through my best friend Jalen Rose, the former NBA small forward who texts me on weekends. We were at the Grantland studios having an intense discussion of a proper rating system for the Most Well-Executed Draft Day Prank—Jalen thought we should develop a Mount Rushmore, which is like trying to stick Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf character in the triangle offense. Anyway, after I SnapChatted Jimmy Kimmel and Magic Johnson—don’t worry, both know me—for a second opinion, he showed me the article announcing Fairleigh’s entrance into the 2014 NBA Draft.
When I was younger, my dad and I used to go to Celtics games. (We had season tickets, just like regular folk.) The best part of any game was when the Celtics were winning big and Greg Kite, the human victory cigar, got into the game. Now, maybe a lesser fanbase wouldn’t understand what this meant. But Celtics fans knew. We clicked with our players.. We got it. And when Kite stepped on the court, we went nuts. We gave him an ovation just like Bird got, like McHale got. Hell, he even got a bigger ovation than Parish (who for some reason just didn’t resonate with the Boston fan base). These are the moments we remembered. The moments for the true fan. That’s what Fairleigh can provide. I know this. My dad knows this. We talked on the phone about this very thing for seven hours yesterday. That’s how much we know about this.
My prediction: Fairleigh goes in the second round to Boston, and then we subsequently hear Tommy Heinsohn compare him to Bob Cousy by the middle of November. Can you see any other way this plays out? Stop it. Just stop.
From Chuck Klosterman:
The NBA Draft, as an event and an institution, is arguably the most crucial time in the NBA during the week immediately following the summer solstice. But despite its importance, the public fails to appreciate the draft judiciously.
The first round is the main course, the one fans salivate over, which is unsurprising given the oppressive state of today’s monoculture. Sure, it’s juicy. But it’s indisputably overrated as a form of eyeball entertainment. The second round is where true aficionados look for their teams to make steals. As an enterprise, it’s an underrated viewing experience—but since this is all it’s known for, it has actually become slightly overrated in past years.
Phil Fairleigh? He’s not even rated. I don’t even know where to begin applying the scientific rating procedure to him. Is he Underrated? Overrated? The never-before-seen, yet much-ballyhooed Properly Rated? These questions make him the most fascinating draft prospect from my perspective.
S—, now he’s overrated.
From Malcolm Gladwell:
What can Phil Fairleigh, a Guatemalan bond trader, and Tara Lipinski teach us about the failure of General Motors? To answer that question, we first have to look to a tiny bodega on the outskirts of San Juan.
[Writes 12,000 words on NAFTA]
From Rick Reilly:
He’s 5’8” on a good day, but when you see Phil Fairleigh on Duke’s campus, you’d think he’s walking on air.
Phil’s not a sharpshooter, but he’s a sharp kid. 3.9 GPA. Dean’s List. Cracked 2000 on his SATs. Cry your heart out, D. Rose.
Maybe he’s not a franchise player. But he’s a franchise person. Shakes everyone’s hand, looks them right in the eye. Tips each day like he won the lottery. Sure, he can’t jump a lick, but act that way enough, and he’ll jump right into our hearts.
His combine stats were great—that is, his combined “thank you’s” and “you’re welcome’s” when going through the dining hall.
Phil seems like a bit of a throwback to me. Less King James and more humble court jester. Less Carmelo and more just plain mellow. His character isn’t like Kobe’s, but it’s sure full of beef.
I’m guessing Phil won’t get drafted this year, or even signed as a free agent in what’s fast turning into the National Badass Association. That’s no surprise. Teams are more wowed by stats and freaks than honest, true human beings. But if there were a National Integrity League, I know who’d be my first pick. Because this Phil? He’s a one-of-a-kind ace in the hole.
But don’t feel bad for him when he goes undrafted. He won’t feel bad. If anything, Phil knows that this is just what they all say.
One really is the loneliest number.