By Cyrus Sarfaty [ESPN intro music plays in the background]
Joe: Good evening, America. Tonight is the night you’ve all been waiting for. We’re gathered here in lovely Scottsdale, Arizona for the 2024 National Museum League Draft. I’m Joe Buck, here with National Art Hall of Famer Jasper Johns.
Jasper: Joe, North America’s top thirty museums are vying for generational talent and the chance to radically change the future of their franchises.
Joe: The beauty of the NML is that time is not a criterion for a museum’s viability. After all, Jasper, you’re 93 and you’ve proven that age is just a number!
Jasper: You know me well, Joe. You know me well.
Joe: Museums may select works displayed all around the world, crafted at any era or movement in time.
Jasper: This year’s number one pick goes to New York’s Whitney Museum, which overcame 4% odds to win the draft lottery and finally attempt to conquer yet another losing season. It’s important they cast a new impression on their deteriorating fanbase. Art pun.
Joe: Hilarious, Jasper. The pundits over at Arts Illustrated have been, frankly, all over the place in their mock draft predictions. Generally, the favorite seems to be Son of Man, out of Rene Magritte.
Commissioner: Welcome everybody to the 2024 NML Draft. With the first overall selection, the Whitney Museum selects oil painting Guernica, from Pablo Picasso.
Joe: Wow! So there you have it! Guernica! Number one! To the Whitney! That is a great selection, albeit a bit of a surprise.
Jasper: You said it, Joe. Still a tremendous all-around threat the Whitney is lucky to have. He could easily be the face of the franchise as soon as next season.
Joe: We now cut to a live reaction to Guernica and his family, joining us via Zoom from his home in Spain.
Guernica (through a flap in the canvas): Wow, I am in shock! This is a tremendous honor. To think I was once just a blank canvas, so to speak, I really can’t believe I’m in the pros! I’d like to thank the love of my life, Reina Sofia, for housing me and continuing to shower me with encouragement every step of the way. Whitney, here I come!
Jasper: Lovely to hear, lovely to hear. It seems Guernica is just the fifth-ever oil painting to be chosen first overall, and he deserves this every bit.
Commissioner: With the second pick, the Detroit Institute of Arts is selecting oil painting Son of Man from Rene Magritte.
Joe: Alright, there we go! Second overall instead of first, but a hell of a pick anyway. A tremendous signing by a museum that badly needs some change, if you’ll excuse me. Coming off a horrific season last year, I think Detroit will stand to greatly benefit from Son of Man’s talent and leadership.
Jasper: Two oil paintings as the top two picks! The last time this ever happened, according to the stat gurus over at Arts Illustrated, was 1951, back in the league’s early days.
Joe: Well, every part of this is deserved. Son of Man is here with us in studio, dripped out in a marvellous fluorescent green frame and a beautiful Granny Smith apple in front of his head, as per usual. Son of Man, what does this selection mean to you?
Son of Man: This feels surreal, you guys! I’m--
Joe: Whoa, Son of Man, I’m gonna have to stop you right there. I’m getting word that there’s a draft day trade happening. You are no longer going to play for Detroit!
Son of Man: Oh?
Joe: It seems you have been shipped to MoMA for an impressive haul. Sorry to cut you off here, Son, but we have to break down the trade package.
Jasper: Yes, it seems MoMA will be receiving Son of Man for Campbell’s Soup Cans and a first-round pick in 2026. Joe, I think Son of Man can fill many of the voids in MoMA’s repertoire. They’ve got the Persistence of Memory and other grizzled vets-- I actually think Son of Man is the spark plug to a superteam they’ve been patiently crafting for years.
Joe: Absolutely, absolutely. I like this move and I wish the best for both Son of Man and Soup Cans, a two-time Most Valuable Painting.
Commissioner: With the third pick, the Guggenheim Museum selects sculpture David from Michaelangelo.
Jasper & Joe: Whoa!
Joe: What a move from the Guggenheim! A museum traditionally known for… lesser talent, I dare say, making a major un-Guggenheim-like move on draft day.
Jasper: You couldn’t have said it better, Joe. For more than sixty years of existence, the museum has never been regarded as a real threat. It always looks appealing on paper, but once you investigate further… I’m just saying the skill is never what you expect it to be.
Joe: Yeah, sometimes it can be supremely underwhelming. So a power move from a not-so-power player… let’s see where that takes them. Ah, here’s David cued up, straight from Florence, Italy.
David: Fellas, this is magnificen--
Joe: Yo! David! Chill, buddy! I’m gonna have to ask you to put on some clothes, man! You’re on national TV! Can someone cut to his coach?
Michaelangelo: You guys don’t understand, that’s part of it.
Joe: Well, hello to you too, Michaelangelo.
Michaelangelo (tipping his cap): Anyway, it’s great ol’ Davey finally gets to make a name for himself in the bigs. Trust me right here, America: we’re finally gonna make the Guggenheim a multi-level threat.
Joe: Well, after finishing last in the division eight years in a row, I don’t know about that. But David could certainly propel it to a higher draft position next year. See ya, guys!
Jasper: We’re gonna go to commercial now. America: stick around for the rest of the first round! The Getty is on the clock.