But in one of the stranger moments of the draft, the Baton Rouge Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year was on stage wearing a Portland cap talking with ESPN's Stuart Scott about going to the Chicago Bulls, the team that had the second pick and the team all-along expected to pick Thomas.
Apparently in the hours prior to
the draft, a deal was reached between Portland and Chicago in which the Bulls
picked LaMarcus Aldridge of Texas at No. 2 for Portland which then drafted
Thomas at No. 4. The deal would secure Aldridge for
But that announcement, although
made right before the Bulls selection on ESPN by Andy Katz based on league
sources and taken as a done deal by the television crew, had not been made
official at the podium by the NBA almost one hour after Thomas' selection by
Finally almost 90 minutes after
Thomas was selected by
Thomas, who helped LSU to the 2006 NCAA Final Four in his redshirt freshman season, becomes the fifth player from LSU to be drafted in the top four at LSU, joining Bob Pettit in 1954 (2nd pick, Milwaukee); Pete Maravich in 1970 (3rd pick, Atlanta); Chris Jackson in 1990 (3rd pick, Denver); Shaquille O'Neal in 1992 (1st pick, Orlando) and Stromile Swift in 2000 (2nd pick, Vancouver).
LSU Coach John Brady has felt all
along in the draft process that
"It's just a blessing to be here.
I'm in a great situation right now. I'm looking forward to being in
LSU women's star Seimone Augustus, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 WNBA draft gave the hopeful NBA star some pointers of draft night. "Just relax, enjoy the moment, go with the flow and make sure I look nice," said Thomas of his conversation with his friend whom he said prior to the draft would be one of the first people outside his family that he calls on his cell phone. In fact, according to NBA.com draft bloggers at The Theatre, after his interview with ESPN, Thomas was being led out to other draft obligations, high-fiving the fans and talking excitedly on his cell phone.
"(The Bulls) are young, they like
to run. Coach Skiles when I visited with him is a great teacher and a motivator.
Just the organization as a whole has a bright future so I'm looking forward to
doing some good things in
The following are quotes From Tyrus Thomas (after the trade was announced, finally wearing a Bulls cap) in the NBA
pressroom backstage at The Theatre at
Q -- It's been a long evening for you waiting to get up here. Were you guys sitting backstage waiting to switch hats?
Thomas -- "LaMarcus and I were backstage waiting for the trade to be finalized and we couldn't move until the trade was finalized so that was about an hour of agony. We knew where we were going but we couldn't do anything until the trade got finalized.
Q -- Tyrus, can you talk about how the trade developed and when you first heard about it.
Thomas -- "I knew
about the trade before the draft even began. I guess it was just a situation
Q -- What type of things were you and LaMarcus talking about in the back room?
Thomas -- "We were just clowning. We were relaxing. We knew where we were going. We were just happy to be here and how blessed we were to be in this situation and we are just anxious to get ready and started on a new career."
Q -- How do you
feel about fitting in
Thomas -- "I am just excited about the whole situation. I talked to (Coach Scott) Skiles and (GM John) Paxson while I was in the back. They know I'm ready to work and they are ready to push me to the limit to help develop me into a better player. I'm just excited about the prospects and ready to go to work."
Q -- You've been
loose since you've arrived in
Thomas -- "You've got to understand the situation. Once I got here, well actually before then, once my workouts were over, there wasn't much that I could control. I wasn't going to put myself under any pressure. I was just going to relax and have a good time."