On Tuesday my colleague told you about the upcoming ESPNU documentary Going Big, which chronicles the career of ex-Blazers center Sam Bowie. Bowie was arguably the biggest draft bust in NBA history because of who Portland passed up to draft him with the second pick in the 1984 NBA Draft: some guy named Michael Jordan from UNC.
Since Jordan was selected with the third pick right after Bowie, many basketball fans have long-held the assumption that Portland’s war room decision came down to a choice between Michael Jordan and Sam Bowie. However, per RealGM.com (via The Oregonian), ex-Blazers President Henry Glickman says that Michael Jordan was not the team’s second choice after Sam Bowie:
“If you look back at the draft,” Glickman said, “if we hadn’t selected (Bowie), we wouldn’t have selected Jordan. We probably would have gone with Charles Barkley.”
Dr. Jack Ramsay, Portland’s head coach at the time, added:
“I don’t remember Michael Jordan’s name being mentioned.”
Go ahead and beat up on the Trailblazers all you want, but don’t forget that they had drafted Clyde Drexler at shooting guard the year before. Drafting a big man made sense for them at the time. They just chose the wrong one. Charles Barkley and Clyde Drexler would have been a formidable duo, and ironically enough they both went to Houston late in their careers to play with Hakeem Olajuwon, the first overall pick in the 1984 draft.
Now if you really want to debate a Portland draft decision, how about that whole Greg Olden over Kevin Durant pick in 2007?