With polish and purpose, displaying more authority than edge, Jabari Parker addressed the ridiculous report that he tanked a workout to persuade the Cavaliers to pass on him Thursday night with the No. 1 pick of the NBA draft.
"I have too much pride to just waste other people's time,'' Parker told reporters in New York. "I come from Duke and most importantly, I come from a family with good values.''
While following the straight and narrow path from Simeon Career Academy to Tobacco Road, Parker barely got accused of cussing. Now the same earnest 19-year-old kid suddenly is tanking? A good reason exists why the ESPN report cited an anonymous source. Nobody who cares about his credibility would dare claim a comment as unfair as it was unfounded.
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Parker reportedly shot poorly and struggled with conditioning enough to warrant a draft-night workout shortly after hugging NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. But you need a 42-inch vertical to make the leap from Parker not playing well to not trying and let one workout wipe out a lifetime of evidence to the contrary.
"I would be glad to look that person in the eye who wrote that stuff and can give me (his) assumptions,'' said Parker, who insisted he wasn't insulted. "I've been dealing it with my entire life, people giving me negative approaches about my weight. But I don't have any problem about the way that I am.''
The way Parker is makes the silky 6-foot-8 forward the safest pick in the 2014 NBA draft, an occasion everybody around Parker anticipated since he was old enough to dunk. In the NBA's annual exercise in projection, with due respect to Andrew Wiggins, a future perennial All-Star himself, Parker offers the surest guarantee of production. If the Cavs do the smart thing, we all will be witnesses to Cleveland welcoming the franchise's most dynamic player since LeBron James.
Legitimate concerns exist over Parker's weight, which was reported as high as 254, and his ability to guard quicker forwards, but offensively his smooth game translates immediately in a league that rewards versatility. The Cavaliers cannot go wrong choosing Wiggins or Parker, but Parker's consistency on and off the court surely tempts an organization that cannot miss on a second straight No. 1 pick. Parker should publicly thank Anthony Bennett, last year's bust, if he hears Silver call his name first shortly after 6 p.m.
"Tomorrow is the day your destiny, everything changes,'' Wiggins said at the same news conference.
If the Cavs take Parker — and late reports had them undecided — it will mark the second time in six years that Simeon produced the draft's No. 1 pick. That would be remarkable enough for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Parker pal, to declare it Simeon's NBA Career Academy for a day.
Not that Parker would mind if Wiggins beats him to the podium. Without hesitation, Parker happily predicted the Bucks would draft him No. 2.
"I had some comfort level with them, especially with them telling me, 'We want you,'" Parker said. "I didn't really get answers from the Cavs, so I'm just going with what I'm certain with.''
Compellingly, nothing about the deepest NBA draft in years seems certain after Parker and Wiggins. Mystery surrounds formerly presumptive No. 1 pick Joel Embiid, the 7-footer with the stress fracture that now gives every team in the top 10 ample reason to avoid the risk. Drama builds for the Bulls, who have the 16th and 19th picks but would love to unload them in a deal that stamps them title contenders again.
Perhaps the Bulls package the picks to move into the top 10 and draft Creighton shooter Doug McDermott. Perhaps they include them in a deal they cannot refuse for Timberwolves Kevin Love, the summer's next-best thing to Carmelo Anthony. Perhaps they simply dump the picks to clear cap space for Anthony, who reportedly plans to visit the Bulls, Rockets and Mavericks next week.
Rumors linking Anthony to LeBron James will continue to fly until James clarifies his intentions. Despite the reality that James makes any team he joins an instant NBA title contender, this isn't 2010 and the Bulls aren't as attractive given Derrick Rose's creaky knees and the team's salary-cap limitations. Gar Forman or John Paxson can call, but James isn't coming to Chicago for any reason except to beat the Bulls.
It will be odd seeing Parker arrive in his hometown with the same intentions, which he will do regularly if either Central Division foe drafts him. And once a Cavalier or a Buck, it will be only a matter of time before Bulls fans aren't so thrilled to see Parker, the best bet on the NBA's version of Casino Night.