Anthony Edwards paid tribute to his mother and grandmother. Onyeka Okongwu recalled his brother. Obi Toppin thought about coming home.
Tears flowed freely for those and many more players Wednesday night when their long-awaited, repeatedly delayed NBA dreams were finally realized, including Washington’s Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.
Edwards was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 pick in an NBA draft delayed multiple times because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Adam Silver announced the pick from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. The draft was originally scheduled for June 25 before multiple delays caused by the virus pushed it back out and out of its usual home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Edwards watched while seated next to portraits of his late mother and grandmother. They both died of cancer and he was emotional after his name was announced.
Toppin, the national player of the year last season at Dayton, struggled to speak after the New York Knicks took him at No. 8, bringing the Brooklyn-born forward to his hometown.
And though there wasn’t the usual family table in the green room and trip on stage to meet the commissioner, some players still were outfitted in fashionable attire — perhaps none more than No. 12 pick Tyrese Haliburton of Sacramento, whose blue, floral suit had the words “Black Lives Matter” on the inside.
They celebrated with family, friends, coaches — and in Cole Anthony’s case, even celebrity fans. Movie director Spike Lee jumped up and down with his family when Orlando took Anthony, whose father, Greg played for the Knicks, at No. 15.
Some moments triggered deeper emotions. Okongwu, taken No. 6 by Atlanta, recalled his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014.
Edwards became the 11th straight one-and-done player to be the No. 1 pick, coming in a year where there was no clear obvious choice. He averaged 19.1 points for the Bulldogs, tops among all freshman.
The Golden State Warriors, stung by the news that Klay Thompson sustained another leg injury earlier Wednesday, took Memphis center James Wiseman with the second pick. They stumbled to the bottom of the league while Thompson missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
LaMelo Ball then went to the Charlotte Hornets, the next stop on a lengthy basketball journey that sent the guard from high school in California to stops as a professional in Lithuania and Australia. He joined brother Lonzo, taken No. 2 by the Lakers and now in New Orleans, to give the Balls two brothers taken in the top three picks.
With their second first-round pick at No. 16, the Detroit Pistons and first-year general manager Troy Weaver selected Stewart, a forward out of Washington.
The Pistons acquired the pick about an hour before the draft in a trade with the Houston Rockets. The pick was originally Portland’s.
With their earlier first-round selection, the Pistons picked French point guard Killian Hayes at No. 7.
Stewart averaged 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a freshman last season.
McDaniels was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 28th pick, but will be traded to the Timberwolves. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season as a freshman at Washington.
Washington State guard CJ Elleby was selected by Portland with the 46th overall pick.