Dec 13, 2012, 8:44 AM EST
It is one of the legendary misses of the NBA Draft.
In 1984 Houston had the first pick and took Hakeem Olajuwon in a move no sane person has ever questioned.
But with the second pick in the draft the Portland Trail Blazers took Kentucky center Sam Bowie over North Carolina guard Michael Jordan. Yes, that Michael Jordan. (Charles Barkley, Sam Perkins and John Stockton were also drafted later in that year.) The way the game was played then it was thought you needed a great true center to win (the Lakers had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Celtics had Robert Parish at the time) and that a guard alone couldn’t win a title. Jordan changed that dynamic while Bowie had a career plagued by foot and leg problems and never came near his potential.
Now comes Bowie saying he was not honest with the Portland doctors at the time, the revelation part of a documentary called “Going Big,” which will air on ESPNU Dec. 20 (hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie).
“I can still remember them taking a little mallet, and when they would hit me on my left tibia, and ‘I don’t feel anything’ I would tell ‘em. But deep down inside, it was hurting. If what I did was lying and what I did was wrong, at the end of the day, when you have loved ones that have some needs, I did what any of us would have done…
“I’m 51 years old now and my legs are broke down. I’m very proud, don’t feel like I owe an apology to anyone. The bottom line is: Sam Bowie was drafted before Michael Jordan and you’re gonna have to accept that.”
Bowie had suffered a stress fracture as a sophomore at Kentucky, one that took a couple years to heal, and that was the start of the leg issues that held up his pro career. The revelation that he lied to Portland and NBA doctors about his health before the draft is new.
When ESPN used the quote above to promote their documentary, Bowie denied it to the Oregonian.
“Anybody that knows me, from the hierarchy in the Portland Trail Blazers during my playing days to my teammates to my friends and family, knows I would never deceive or trick or lie to anybody,” Bowie told The Oregonian during a phone interview Wednesday. “I wasn’t raised that way. You can call me a lot of things, but don’t look at me as though I deceived or tricked (the organization).
“I thought I would play 15 years and win a couple championships with the Blazers…
“My discomfort wasn’t to the point where I would say to the Portland Trail Blazers or anyone else, ‘My leg is extremely sore. I wouldn’t draft me. I don’t think I’m going to play a full career in the NBA,’” Bowie told The Oregonian. “That wasn’t the situation at all. The thing that bothers me is that I’m looked upon in some way as a liar. That’s never been my demeanor, my makeup, my character. By no means was I tricking or was it a premeditated position to lie and give somebody damaged goods. To say that I deliberately went into the Portland Trail Blazers’ front office and completely lied to them about my physical being could not be further form the truth.”
As teams do now, Portland had a full battery of tests done on Bowie before they drafted him, including X-rays and MRIs. They looked at everything. The doctors said he was good to go, Portland (which already had a promising young two guard in Clyde Drexler) went with the big man.
The rest of it is history.
Nov 21, 2014, 6:57 PM EST
Another top pick down. This sucks.
Nov 21, 2014, 5:59 PM EST
Any story that includes a chance meeting and conversation with Jerry Buss outside a men’s restroom is going to be golden.
Nov 21, 2014, 5:15 PM EST
You all know the Sixers would win easily, right?
Nov 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
Former No. 1 pick knows he fought perception due to Wizards’ struggles
Nov 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EST
LeBron said the same thing about Chris Bosh.
Nov 21, 2014, 3:02 PM EST
Kobe calls owners ability to pressure players into discounts ‘brilliant’ — but it won’t work on him
Nov 21, 2014, 2:12 PM EST
Hornets forward makes right move by accepting lengthy ban
Nov 21, 2014, 1:39 PM EST
Martin suffered injury against Knicks on Wednesday
Nov 21, 2014, 1:01 PM EST
Did Bulls center think Cousins flopped?
Nov 21, 2014, 12:25 PM EST
Brooklyn forward had fallen from rotation
Nov 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EST
Mark Cuban says technology will give his team an edge on the court
Nov 21, 2014, 11:08 AM EST
How long will Celtics general manager keep that stance?
Nov 21, 2014, 10:29 AM EST
Yup, Richardson is still hanging around the 76ers
Nov 21, 2014, 9:51 AM EST
Cavaliers and Rockets were reportedly interested in Timberwolves forward
Nov 21, 2014, 9:14 AM EST
Who would have figured offering a 50 percent discount following Philadelphia wins wouldn’t work?
Nov 21, 2014, 8:38 AM EST
That’s a look
Nov 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Add rookie’s mom to long list of people angry about 76ers tanking
Nov 21, 2014, 12:15 AM EST
Morris said Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope “doesn’t have any heart”, Van Gundy fires back.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Another one that shouldn’t be punished.
Jason Kidd tells Joe Johnson ‘we know it’s coming to you’ late in Bucks’ triple-overtime win over Nets
Nov 20, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
Kidd trash talked his former player in crunch time.
- Kobe Bryant says he took large enough discount for Lakers to contend 35
- Report: Jeff Taylor won’t appeal 24-game suspension 2
- Timberwolves’ Kevin Martin out indefinitely after scoring 31 points with fractured wrist 8
- Andrei Kirilenko leaves Nets for road trip, Lionel Hollins unsure if he’ll return 13
- Report: Danny Ainge telling other teams he won’t trade Rajon Rondo 11
- PBT Extra: How would the NBA benefit from legalized sports betting? 2
- NBPA ready to appeal Jeffery Taylor’s 24-game suspension 12
- Alex Len, No. 5 pick in a draft full of players who looked like busts as rookies, showing he doesn’t deserve the label 5