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In this storied sports city, where “Everett Pride” translates into football and basketball championship banners, plenty of people held their breath at the beginning of the National Basketball Association player draft last Thursday in Brookyn, N.Y. Locals had expected Everett-native Nerlens Noel to be the No. 1 pick, but the gifted 6-foot-11 center slid to sixth, where he was taken by New Orleans, and then quickly traded to Philadelphia.
In New York, Noel was disappointed but in his hometown, there was mirth. At barbershops, pizzerias, and on the stoops that line the downtown streets around his family’s modest two-decker house, people stood and cheered. In one moment, Noel became the most celebrated athlete to ever come out of Everett.