The 2001 NBA (professional basketball) draft took place on June 27, 2001 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

This draft was especially notable (and thus node-worthy?) in that 3 of the first 4 picks were high school players (Kwame Brown 1st overall by the Washington Wizards; Tyson Chandler 2nd by the Los Angeles Clippers; Eddy Curry 4th by the Chicago Bulls. This marked the first time in NBA history that a high school player was taken 1st overall (Darius Miles was picked 3rd overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2000).

In addition, a foreign player (Pau Gasol from Spain) was taken 3rd overall. This was the highest a foreign player was ever taken (Dirk Nowitzki from Germany was picked 9th in 1998 by the Milwaukee Bucks).

This is all a sign of how the NBA is changing in the 21st century. For most of the league's history (more than 50 years), the NBA draft was almost exclusively American college basketball players. In recent years, there has been a gradual increase in high schoolers, and some have had great success in the league (Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, for example). The same has been true about foreign players (Peja Stojakovic and Nowitzki being examples). Teams now realize the possible upside in taking such players and the 2001 Draft was a breakout year for both high schoolers and non-Americans.

The NBA draft is currently two rounds long (and has been since 1989). In the first round, each team has 5 minutes to make their selection. NBA commissioner David Stern announces all first round picks ("With the first pick...in the 2001 NBA Draft...the Washington Wizards select..."). The second round is quicker, with only a 2 minute limit. Deputy commissioner Russ Granik announces the second rounders.

This was the first NBA Draft I had ever attended (tickets were $10; I got one from a friend...). It was much more crowded than I ever expected. The several thousand seat theater was filled to capacity, and at times was likely as loud as the Depeche Mode concert in the arena above.

Maybe in 20 years, I can say to my kids, "See the great Kwame Brown? I was there the night he was drafted."

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