NEW YORK (AP) — Between the 15th and 16th picks in Thursday night’s draft came a very special selection by the NBA.
Commissioner Adam Silver announced at that point that the NBA would let Isaiah Austin fulfill the dream of every young player, making him a ceremonial pick.
Just over a week ago, the sophomore center from Baylor was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart. It ended his playing career.
The illness was discovered during a physical for the draft.
The crowd at Barclays Center rose to its feet as Austin, sitting in the waiting area with most of the first-round picks, hugged family members and put on a generic NBA cap. He went up to the stage and posed with Silver, just as all the drafts picks do when they are called.
During the season, the 7-foot-1 Austin revealed he had a prosthetic right eye after multiple operations couldn’t repair a detached retina.
Austin, expected to be a high pick when healthy, said he felt he has “a great story to share.”
He said Baylor coach Scott Drew has already offered him a coaching position with the Bears.