2012 NBA Draft: What's the Point of the Green Room?

Rob Mahoney@RobMahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 27, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 23:  Quincy Miller #30 of the Baylor Bears cleebrates during their 75 to 70 win over the Xavier Musketeers during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Semifinal game at the Georgia Dome on March 23, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The "green room," a collection of players believed by the league to be likely lottery picks, is an annual fixture at the NBA draft. The most promising prospects and their families wait anxiously in the green room as pick after pick is announced by commissioner David Stern, and it's exactly that kind of contained waiting game that the green room was created to uphold. It's one thing to make a player predicted to go in the middle of the first round wait his turn before hearing his name called, but another for a player whose draft stock had dwindled to have a moment of agony with cameras trained on him and his family. The exclusive green room invitation process comes from a place of protection, and yet considering how many non-invitees elect to show up to the draft anyway, I'm not sure that limiting the invite list serves much of a function at all. 

For this week's draft, the following players were invited to take part in the green room:

Harrison Barnes (UNC)
Bradley Beal (Florida)
Anthony Davis (Kentucky)
Andre Drummond (UConn)
John Henson (UNC)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Kentucky)
Jeremy Lamb (UConn)
Meyers Leonard (Illinois)
Damian Lillard (Weber State)
Austin Rivers (Duke)
Terrence Ross (Washington)
Dion Waiters (Syracuse)
Tyler Zeller (UNC)

But it didn't take long for the reports to start trickling in of players aiming to attend on the own terms. Per Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports

Baylor's Quincy Miller will be in stands at draft despite no green room invitation to enjoy the moment when name called & walk across stage.

— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 26, 2012

Ex-Kentucky forward Terrence Jones will be sitting in stands during the NBA Draft after not receiving green room invite. Keep eye on Sixers.

— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 27, 2012

The NBA can't actually protect prospects from public embarrassment; all they can do is subtly hint that they might not be selected in the lottery and let the prospect make the call. With that in mind, what exactly is the pragmatic purpose of a green room whose message draftees so often choose to ignore? The green room system isn't deeply flawed in any sense, but just wholly unnecessary; why not just let players show up if they choose to show up and brave the embarrassment while also having a chance to walk across the stage for their prized photo op? What's the benefit of the league tipping its draft day hand, in a sense, only to do publicly (warn away falling prospects) what it could just as effectively do privately?