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MAGIC DEFIES LONG ODDS TO EARN NO. 1 PICK AGAIN WORST TEAMS SHUT OUT IN DRAFT LOTTERY

NEW YORK -- The Orlando Magic might not be a good team yet, but Sunday they became one of the luckiest in the NBA.

The Magic won the right to the top pick in the NBA draft for the second straight year, defying the longest odds of any of the 11 teams in the draft lottery. Orlando had a 1.5 percent chance to finish No. 1.

Because the Magic had the best regular-season record (41-41) of the 11 teams, they had just one of the 66 balls in the lottery hopper. Their one ball was the first selected.

It was the first time since the lottery was shifted to a weighted system in 1990 that a non-playoff team with the best record won the right to pick first.

"What can I say -- it's Magic," Orlando General Manager Pat Williams said after bounding offstage with a wide grin. "Suddenly, we went from No. 11 to No. 1."

In the days leading to the draft, Williams had said that if Orlando won the lottery it would be tantamount to "World War III breaking out, with Switzerland winning."

Last year, Orlando won the Shaquille O'Neal sweepstakes, and the 7-foot-1 star went on to become rookie of the year.

Now, the blueprint for building a future NBA title contender suddenly has grown much clearer for the Magic. There is a good chance the Magic will choose Michigan power forward Chris Webber with the No. 1 pick, which should satisfy their most pressing needs.

The Magic are likely to get a number of trade offers for the choice.

"I don't envision a trade," Williams said. "We'll listen to everyone who calls -- and they will -- but I'd rather have a 20-year-old Chris Webber playing alongside 21-year-old Shaquille O'Neal than anything else we might get. We've always believed you build through the draft. We've been incredibly lucky. It's just a great day for us."

The lottery was filled with upsets. Philadelphia, which had the fifth best chance of winning, got the No. 2 pick. Golden State, with just the seventh-best chance of winning, finished third.

The three teams with the best chance of winning (Dallas, Minnesota and Washington) will pick fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

Sacramento will select eighth, Denver ninth and Detroit 10th and 11th. The Pistons' pick at No. 10 come from Miami, which traded it last summer in exchange for John Salley.

Webber is one of four players considered the cream of this year's draft. The others are 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley, the Brigham Young student who has been on a Mormon mission the past two years, Kentucky's Jamal Mashburn and Memphis State's Anfrenee Hardaway.

Both Philadelphia and Golden State, weak at center, have expressed great interest in Bradley.

Minnesota, with the fifth pick, could wind up chosing from a group that includes Indiana's Calbert Cheaney, Wake Forest's Rodney Rogers, UNLV's J.R. Rider and Duke's Bobby Hurley.

'KJ' a worry for Sonics

PHOENIX -- Charles Barkley elevated his game in the second round of the playoffs. That is no surprise.

What worries the Seattle SuperSonics going into Game One of the best-of-seven Western Conference final tonight (9 p.m., TNT) is Phoenix point guard Kevin Johnson, who was out of sync for much of the season.

"Kevin Johnson kicks in when Barkley is off," Seattle center Michael Cage said.

"They motivate off Charles, but Kevin Johnson makes it happen for them," added Shawn Kemp, who led the Sonics in scoring, rebounding and blocks during their season series against the Suns.

"We have to try to deny him the ball and keep it out of his hands. He's like (Utah's) John Stockton in that you have to keep him out of the middle."

The Suns are 7-3 in the playoffs with Johnson in the lineup.

Bird balks at coach talk

BOSTON -- Ask him about the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. Ask him about the Phoenix Suns and the Seattle SuperSonics. Ask him about baseball.

Just don't ask him about coaching.

"I don't want to talk about that right now," Larry Bird told the Boston Globe. "I just don't want to get into it."

He won't even acknowledge any discussions with Indiana, Atlanta, the Quad City Thunder or anyone else. "I don't have anything to say," he says with a laugh. "Leave 'em all guessing.

"I'll know a lot more after I talk with the Celtics," he said. Bird will be meeting with team CEO Dave Gavitt this week to discuss his involvement -- if any -- with the 1993-94 Celtics.

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