June 19, 1984: The beginning of a new landscape for the National Basketball Association.
In the 1984 NBA Draft, four Basketball Hall of Fame members were selected in the first 16 picks.
Also drafted with the 1994 NBA MVP and three members of “The Dream Team”: NBA Champion and teammate with Olajuwon in Houston, Otis Thorpe, NBA Slam Dunk contest regular Terence Stansbury, the fiery and powerful Jerome Kersey, international legend Oscar Schmidt and head coach of the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle.
After Houston paired Olajuwon with fellow big man Ralph Sampson in the Rockets front-court, the big decision was on Portland’s shoulders. Do they stick with the trend in the old days of basketball and select talented (but injury-prone) big man Sam Bowie from Kentucky? Or would the Blazers take the most exciting player in college basketball in Michael Jordan?
(Hint: You know the answer.)
30 years later, we all been witnesses in some way or another, to one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports.
Michael Jordan captivated the world like few athletes before him or after him could. In an eight-year span during the 1990′s, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the team who selected him third overall after Portland took Bowie, won six NBA championships.
What did Sam Bowie do in his four-plus seasons in Portland? In his rookie year, Bowie did make the All-NBA Rookie Team. In 76 games, Bowie averaged 10 points and almost nine rebounds a game. In the three years following a solid rookie campaign, Bowie broke his left leg, his right leg and fractured his right tibia in the 1987-88 NBA preseason.
Personally for me, Hakeem Olajuwon is the most under-appreciated player in NBA history. Olajuwon played all but one of his 17 NBA seasons with the Houston Rockets.
During those 17 seasons, Olajuwon won two NBA titles in three Finals appearances, scored 26,946 points (9th all-time), made 12 All-Star Teams, won gold with the United States at the 1996 Olympics and was the only player in history to retire in the top-10 all-time in points, rebounds, blocks and steals.
Did I mention he had quite the footwork for a seven-footer?
(I’m a huge David Robinson fan, but The Admiral is lying to us all if he says he doesn’t see Hakeem in his nightmares from time to time.)
Charles Barkley had one shot at winning an NBA title in 1993. Guess who got in the way?
Sure, Bill Russell is the greatest winner. 11 NBA Championships speak for themselves. Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the greatest scorers in NBA history. Their size and talent were unmatched.
But, in the end and the dust settles, the greatest player of all-time is Michael Jordan.
So, after having built one of the greatest legacies in sports, what is the 51-year-old Jordan up to?
Jordan currently owns a majority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats … er, I mean the Charlotte Hornets. (That’s going to take some getting used to.) After making some questionable draft decisions with the Washington Wizards with Kwame Brown and in Charlotte with Adam Morrison, Jordan seemingly has the Hornets going in the right direction. The Hornets made the playoffs this past season for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
The 51-year-old Olajuwon still has a connection to the game of basketball as well. Recently, he was named the NBA Ambassador to Africa. Olajuwon was born in the country of Nigeria in 1963. He’s worked with some NBA players in the off-seasons as well. The list includes Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Emeka Okafor, JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried, Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming.
Charles Barkley continues to be the best personality on television. No, I don’t mean just basketball. If Chuck is on television, watching him is a must. Chuck has developed himself through his years on the “Inside the NBA” set for Turner Sports as one of the funniest men in America. Not only was Barkley a tremendous basketball player, his underrated knowledge of the game goes overlooked at times.
His knowledge is overlooked usually because of things like this:
Chuck’s humor is second-to-none.
As for Stockton, the 10-time All-Star was a dark-horse candidate to take over as head coach for his former team, the Utah Jazz. The job eventually went to former Los Angeles Lakers assistant Quin Snyder.
New-school NBA fans would make their arguments towards the 1996 and 2003 NBA Drafts as being the best draft(s) of all-time.
The debates will go into the next decade and beyond. Regardless of what draft you feel is the greatest, the array of talent in the 1984 draft was unbelievable.