Otto Porter Jr. was struggling to remain calm and contain his emotions but they slowly started taking over. He was filled with the excitement of reaching a place that many in his tiny home town in southeast Missouri – including his father – had only dreamed of being, and with the joy of realizing he would be staying in familiar territory in Washington.
Porter couldn’t hide his smile and even fought back a few tears as he fielded questions at a podium only a few minutes after he found out the Washington Wizards had taken him third overall in the NBA draft. But before the sophomore all-American from Georgetown could leave the stage after a nearly seven-minute interview, Porter was hit with a question that almost doused some of his enthusiasm.
An inquisitor in the front row leaned into a microphone and asked: “Otto, obviously you’re a fine player. Do you think Monumental Sports made a decision to draft you to sell some tickets in the Verizon Center?”
Somewhat startled, Porter responded: “I think they really brought me there to help the organization win. And that’s what I’m going to do when I go there.”
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis’s connection to Georgetown – he graduated from the school in 1977 — was certainly a factor in the selection of Porter. But the Wizards selected the 20-year-old more for his talent, versatility and character than for any residual effects at the box office. Porter likely would’ve been the choice if he had descended from Mars.
The franchise has moved beyond the era when former team executive Susan O’Malley wasn’t shy about plucking a player from Georgetown or Maryland to attract a local crowd.
Porter is a Wizard because Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and his staff and Coach Randy Wittman felt he was the best fit for a team that already has a promising back court in John Wall and Bradley Beal and is looking to break free from the rut of annual 20-win seasons.