By Vidur Malik and Lauren Shute
Thousands of people from all over the country packed the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last night to catch a glimpse of the NBA’s future. The home of the Nets was the site of the 2013 NBA Draft — a night of excitement and suspense for players and their families, and a party for the fans.
There was a festive energy at Barclays, with fans mingling with each other and predicting who their team would pick. There was no clear-cut number-one pick in this year’s draft, so there was an air of mystery over who would go first.
“It’s pretty cool not knowing if you ask me,” Luke M., a 13-year old Cleveland Cavaliers fan from Ohio, said before the draft began.
Cleveland had the first pick, and many people expected the Cavs to take Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. But when they were on the clock, they surprised everyone by selecting UNLV forward Anthony Bennett.
“A little shocked, but I liked it,” Aaron Goldstein, a University of Michigan student and Cavs fan, said about the pick.
(Noel was eventually picked sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, who then traded him and their 2014 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday and Pierre Jackson.)
With the second overall pick, the Orlando Magic drafted Indiana’s Victor Oladipo. Two picks later, the Charlotte Bobcats selected Oladipo’s teammate Cody Zeller at number four.
There was a large turnout of Hoosiers faithful at Barclays, and they cheered loudly for their former players.
Ryan Robbins, an Indiana graduate, was at the draft with three of his college buddies. They came to support Oladipo, Zeller and Christian Watford, who was not drafted.
“Being here, seeing them go on to their careers in the NBA, it’s an honor,” Robbins said. “And we love them for what they did for us.”
But for as vocal as Indiana fans were, they were not the loudest group of supporters at the draft. That distinction went to fans of Trey Burke, a guard from Michigan.
Dozens of Burke’s family and friends attended the draft. They wore black shirts that read “Burke Nation.” There were also plenty of Michigan fans on hand to cheer on the one-time Wolverine.
“Seeing one of my classmates up there about to get drafted to the NBA is a surreal feeling,” said Michigan student Josh Kadden.
Burke was selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was then traded to the Utah Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks, Shabazz Muhammad from UCLA and Gorgui Dieng from Louisville.
By the middle of the first round, the big names had been drafted and fans started to leave. The few hundred that stuck around never lost any of their enthusiasm. They even gave outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern — a man they booed all night long — a standing ovation.
Photo: NBA 1st overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft Anthony Bennett waves to the crowd after being selected during the 2013 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 27, 2013 in Brooklyn, New York. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)