The 1999 draft was one in which most projections put Elton Brand in the first place, and that was the case – the Chicago Bulls picked him from No. 1. However, that draft night is remembered by one other thing. It’s tough to recall when was a player so upset for being drafted so high as Steve “Franchise” Francis did after Vancouver Grizzlies picked him from second place. This was the only time we saw a player cry in the draft, and everyone knew it was because he was unhappy.
Steve made it very clear in private meetings with the Grizzlies front office and public statements that he didn’t want to play in Vancouver. However, the Grizzlies wanted him more than Baron Davis (picked by the Charlotte Hornets) and were willing to roll the dice on Steve. Unfortunately for them, the expression on Francis’ face spoke volumes. On the Knuckleheads podcast Steve explained the situation.
“I definitely wanted to go to Chicago, man… The whole mystique of me wearing number 23, and I was excited. To me, I thought it was a go, but, you know, things didn’t work out. I knew Vancouver wasn’t going to draft me…I was in [deep] conversations with Coach Paul Silas [Charlotte Hornets] and talking to him. So, Vancouver flew to D.C…told me I had to wear the jacket. So I came straight from the gym, straight from the workout and I was like ‘Man, I told them I didn’t wanna be there‘… I had a meeting with my agent, five minutes, I’m like ‘Yo, I’m gone‘ I didn’t wanna shoot no BS and tell them I feel comfortable playing there.”Steve Francis, Knuckleheads Podcast
Eventually, Francis got traded to Houston. It took two months that followed June’s draft, but the Grizzlies, Rockets, and Magic managed an 11-player deal centered around the rookie guard from Maryland.
The situation didn’t bother Steve much, and he recorded a great start to his NBA career; he was named Co-Rookie of the year along with Brand.
From 1999-2004 Francis posted averages of 19.3 points, 6.4 assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals for the Rockets. He was named an All-Star three times but was traded in 2004 to Orlando in the deal that sent Tracy McGrady to Houston.