‘Scary but exciting’ role for Jami Gertz as Hawks rep at draft lottery


Jami Gertz will have no effect on the Hawks’ chances in the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night in Chicago. She won’t even be in the room during the random drawing that will determine which lottery pick the Hawks will own in next month’s draft. 

But Gertz will have a starring role later that night as the team’s representative during the unveiling of the results live on ESPN. That means Gertz — whose acting career includes dozens of roles in Hollywood films and on television — will be the public face of the Hawks’ fortunes in the lottery. 

» More: Representatives for each team at Draft Lottery

“A lot of pressure,” Gertz said. “And I’ve had a lot of pressure in my life. I’ve done live theater. You’ve got to come up with the goods night after night, which is a lot of pressure. Tony Ressler seems to feel like I’m his gal.” 

Gertz is married to Ressler, the principal owner of the Hawks. She said she views the draft lottery as another chance for the couple to make their mark on the franchise, which Ressler’s group purchased in June 2015. 

Ressler hired Travis Schlenk as general manager last year. The Hawks introduced Lloyd Pierce as their new head coach Monday. And now the Hawks will have their first lottery pick since 2007, when they moved up from fourth to third and selected future All-Star Al Horford and then took Acie Law at No. 11.

Michelle Leftwich, Hawks VP for salary-cap administration, will be the team’s representative for the drawing. She and the other witnesses are barred from communicating outside of the room until the television show concludes.  

Gertz and the other team representatives will learn their teams’ picks during the ESPN show. 

“I’m very excited,” Gertz said. “We got one life. Why not be the one who gets to go be a lottery-pick (representative)? We’ve been the owners for three years now, and I feel like this is the first time we’ve taken ownership. With Lloyd and Travis being amazing hires, we are kind of like putting our stamp on it. Hopefully it will go my way (Tuesday) night, and I will continue to put my stamp on it.” 

The Hawks have the fourth-best odds of winning the top pick (13.7) and a 42.6 percent chance of a top-three selection. After the top three picks are determined, the rest of the lottery teams select in reverse order of record, with the Hawks assured of picking no later than seventh. 

Gertz said she’s “a little bit” superstitious. 

“When good things happen in life, the color red has always been (involved),” she said. “My mother is a little bit of a superstitious gal, so whenever I would get a particularly big job she would always say: ‘You’ve got to tie a red ribbon around your bra.’ And so I would go to work with a little red ribbon around my brassiere. 

“So there will be some of that (Tuesday) night. Maybe a little bit of yoga breathing in the morning to calm myself down. I’m just excited for what’s to come. It’s the unknown. It’s scary but it’s exciting.” 

One possible good omen for the Hawks: Gertz was born in Chicago and grew up in suburban Glenview. 

If the Hawks beat the odds and win the top pick, or even improve their position, the team’s fans may associate her with the stroke of good luck. If it goes the other way, they might remember that Gertz as the one to deliver the bad news. 

Either way, Gertz said she’s keeping her role in the draft lottery in perspective. 

“Tony will have me as his wife no matter what happens,” she said. “I will still be Theo, Oliver and Nick’s mom no matter how it goes.”


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