Draft Day Memories
Posted Jun 25 2003 2:59PM
Ah, the NBA Draft. So many players to choose from, so little wiggle room. One good selection -- or one poor pick -- can define a career and make for lasting memories. So, to get the atmosphere of those special days, we asked some NBA's best GMs for their favorite draft day memories.
ROD THORN, Nets President and General Manager
Thorn spent 1978-85 as Chicago Bulls GM. He has been Nets GM since 2000
Thorn's favorite pick: "Michael Jordan" (Chicago Bulls, 1984, first round, No. 3 overall)
Did he have his sights set on Jordan all along? "Well, yes, I knew he would be available. Houston was going to take [Hakeem] Olajuwon, and if Sam Bowie passed a physical, Portland said they would draft him. So, unless there was some last-minute change."
What was the atmosphere in the draft room? "We were extremely happy to get Michael. I couldn't tell you that I had the prescience to tell you that he was going to be what he turned out to be. We thought he would be a very good NBA player. It wasn't until we saw him play did we know."
How long after Portland chose Bowie did it take you to make the selection? "We informed our representative reasonably quickly that we would be taking Jordan."
How did you feel about that day? Any anticipation? "It was a normal day. You're always a little nervous going into the draft and wondering what will transpire. But it was a long day, 10 rounds, considerably more than two we have today. That's what I remember."
What was reaction in Chicago? "It was a very positive one. People there knew him as college Player of the Year at North Carolina. He was very visible. It was very positive."
Thorn draft trivia: Jordan wasn't the only Olympic gold medalist selected by Thorn in 1984. In the 10th round, the Bulls selected sprinter Carl Lewis, one of the more interesting NBA Draft oddities in history.
The Nets hold the Nos. 22 and 51 picks in NBA Draft 2003
RICK SUND, SuperSonics General Manager
Sund joined the Mavericks in 1979 and was at the time the league's youngest personnel director. Sund spent six seasons as Pistons Executive VP of Basketball Operations. He joined the Sonics on June 1, 2001
Sund's favorite pick: "Derek Harper, the 11th pick in 1983. He had a stellar career and played so long, 14 years. He was a huge factor in the Mavericks' early success. I'm real proud of that fact."
Did you have an alternative to Harper if he wasn't there? "We had just picked Dale Ellis at No. 9, so we were thinking about that pick as well as possibly getting Harper at 11."
How did you feel about that day? Any anticipation? "I was nervous but excited before the draft. When the draft finally arrives, there's a sort of relief, but still there's a nervousness, because you're never sure of what will happen. And with the draft, you get so focused on the draft, you block out the world around you."
Sund draft trivia: Sund was the Pistons' GM when he traded Otis Thorpe in 1997 to the then-Vancouver Grizzlies for a future first-round pick. That pick turned into the No. 2 pick for the Pistons in NBA Draft 2003.
The Sonics hold the Nos. 12, 14 and 41 picks in NBA Draft 2003
CARROLL DAWSON, Rockets General Manager
Dawson has been with the Rockets organization for 23 years. He has been Rockets GM for the past seven.
Dawson's favorite pick: "I kind of like the one we made last year."
Last year, Dawson and the Rockets selected Yao Ming with No. 1 overall pick.
"I also liked [Hakeem] Olajuwon (No. 1 in 1984). We added him to the team with Ralph Sampson, which was exciting. People from Houston, of course, knew about Olajuwon. Robert Horry and Sam Cassell helped us to two championships."
The Rockets selected Horry with the 11th overall pick in the 1992 Draft, Cassell late in the first round (24th overall) in the 1993 Draft. When we mentioned to Dawson that we were doing a NBA Draft piece on Greatest Sleepers, Dawson responded.
"You should put Cuttino Mobley. We were very happy to find him available with the No. 41 pick (second round in 1998). There were a lot of smiles that night."
What was the public reaction to Yao? "It was positive. At first, no one really knew much about him, so we got a couple of tapes and sent them to local TV. When people saw those tapes and that he could play, they were happy with it."
Dawson draft trivia: Olajuwon (1984) was the second consecutive overall No. 1 for the Rockets. One year earlier, the Rockets selected Ralph Sampson with the No. 1 pick. Was Hakeem a part of the Greatest Draft Ever?
The Rockets hold the No. 44 pick in NBA Draft 2003