It was a weak draft to begin with, quickly written off as Blake Griffin and a cast of dozens. But then let ESPN move in its crew and cameras for the day, let Shaquille O'Neal get traded to Cleveland, let Vince Carter get traded to Orlando, and you don't need to guess where ESPN's draft coverage is going to head in a sprint.
"Let's talk," anchor Stuart Scott told analysts Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Jay Bilas. "Shaquille O'Neal. LeBron James. A lot of people think they'll be picked to win the NBA championship. Jay, do you agree with that?"
Bilas said he liked the move but didn't mention anything about a championship.
Jackson said he liked the move provided it comes with the future acquisition of a shooting forward. "I don't like the move by itself," he said.
Scott, sounding incredulous: "You don't like it by itself? How can you have Shaq and LeBron and not think . . . I mean, it can be Shaq and LeBron and the three of you guys -- wouldn't that be a championship team?"
Jackson corrected Scott on the Cavaliers' marquee pecking order. "First of all," he said, "it's LeBron and Shaq."
Regardless of the trade, Jackson said the Cavaliers "have the same problems. They have to have a shooting forward alongside Shaq."
Over to Dick Vitale, sounding very excited about the trades involving O'Neal, Carter and Richard Jefferson, who moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio.
"Draft day has been dominated by Jefferson, Shaquille and suddenly Vince Carter!" Vitale shouted. "I think right now Santa Claus came early and we're going to have Cleveland and we're going to have San Antonio play for the title and Cleveland's going to celebrate, baby!"
Note to Vitale: The Lakers have yet to secede from the NBA.
There was so much talk about stars and star power -- ESPN is addicted to both -- that Scott was moved to interject, "Oh by the way, there's a draft tonight. Right here in this building."
Eventually, ESPN retrained its focus on the process of NBA teams restocking their rosters with American collegiate and European professional talent. That included placing a camera inside the Clippers' draft headquarters. Remarkably, the camera did not reveal any dartboard on the wall or any Clippers official flipping a coin.
Because the options were so limited, because the pick was so obvious, even the Clippers were able to write Griffin's name on their draft card.
Moments before, Scott quipped, "Theoretically, it's not a done deal. Theoretically, if the Lakers offered Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic for the first pick, I guess you take the deal. Because that Sasha Vujacic is a really good player."
When NBA Commissioner David Stern announced Griffin's name and Griffin pulled on a Clippers cap, the camera inside the Clippers' draft room captured team officials mildly applauding.
If it seemed subdued, as Scott noted, Griffin-to-the-Clippers has been a foregone conclusion ever since the lottery, when team President Andy Roeser revealed a No. 23 Clippers jersey -- Griffin's number -- sewn into his jacket lining.
Bilas called Griffin "an absolute beast" and said the Oklahoma forward was as sure an All-Star as anybody in the draft.
That said, it was soon back to Vitale to stick up for the non-Griffin portion of the draft.
He predicted North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, drafted 13th by Indiana, will average 14 points and eight rebounds as a pro. He chastised those teams that passed on Davidson's Stephen Curry, who was taken seventh by Golden State.
"Those teams that didn't pick Curry, they're going to eat their heart out," he said. "Curry is going to be a star! How much of a star? He's going to be the rookie of the year in the NBA!"
Interleague baseball continues with the Angels at Arizona (FS West, 6:30 p.m.) and Seattle at the Dodgers (Prime Ticket, 7 p.m.). On WGN at 1 p.m., the Windy City Series features the Chicago Cubs at the Chicago White Sox.
For viewers still needing to decompress from Thursday's NBA draft, the NHL conducts its annual draft amid much less fanfare on Versus at 4 p.m.
Good on Saturday
Tennis fans will have two options during the first Saturday of the sport's most revered tournament. On ESPN2 at 5 a.m., it will be breakfast at Wimbledon, preceding lunch at Wimbledon on Channel 4 at noon. The U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships, from Eugene, Ore., will be aired on a delayed basis by ESPN.
Good on Sunday
The United States bids for its first championship in a major international soccer tournament in the FIFA Confederations Cup final at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
Wednesday, Team USA stunned the soccer world with its 2-0 upset of reigning European champion and world No. 1 Spain. Sunday, the Americans take on an old foe very familiar with No. 1 rankings: Brazil.
Taped track and field gives way to live coverage, with Channel 4 carrying two hours of the championships from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.