Bulls Get Brand-Name With First Pick

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNS) - The Chicago Bulls took the first step in their post-Michael reconstruction by drafting Duke forward Elton Brand with the first overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft Wednesday night in Washington.

Hometown favorite and Maryland guard Steve Francis went to the Vancouver Grizzlies, a team he never visited for pre-draft workouts, at No. 2. He was expected to go No. 1 (to the Bulls or in a trade) or No. 3 to Charlotte.

Charlotte continued the guard trend by drafting UCLA's Baron Davis.

The 6-foot-8 Brand becomes the major building block of a team that won six championships in eight years, but suffered the worst season in franchise history following the retirement of basketball legend Michael Jordan.

"I feel I am the best player and I can improve a lot," said Brand. "I think I can be the cornerstone in their rebuilding."

The MCI Center crowd was tough all night long, particularly when Brand was chosen ahead of Francis. The consensus player of the year was booed when his name was announced, as he made his way to the podium, and when he appeared on television.

Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, General Manager Wes Unseld, the team mascot, and team highlight videos were also booed by the capacity crowd.

Francis, a Takoma Park native, was cheered mightily throughout. Francis, however, could not hide the disappointment of being shipped to a struggling Canadian team.

"Hopefully, when I wake up tomorrow, I'll be happy," Francis said. "As soon as I get a chance, I'll take [my Vancouver hat] off."

Lamar Odom, perhaps the draft's most talented player, but considered a problematic choice for his arrogant public persona and brushes with the law, was selected fourth by the Los Angeles Clippers.

When asked about his mistakes, Odom responded, "I'm 19 years old, man. Thankfully, I didn't make those mistakes when I'm 29, when it's too late."

After the first four selections, the draft began to take the form most experts predicted. High school phenom Jonathan Bender went No. 5 to the Toronto Raptors; the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Wally Szczerbiak at No. 6; and the host Wizards took University of Connecticut guard and NCAA champion Richard Hamilton with the seventh pick.