Cohen: Significant NBA Happenings in History That Many Have Forgotten or Ignored
Cohen's Analysis: Whenever the name Sam Bowie is referenced, automatically Michael Jordan’s illustrious career is accentuated. We all know that in the 1984 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers chose injury-prone Bowie ahead of MJ, who eventually became one of the most celebrated athletes in sports history.
In all justice to the Blazers, picking a center was the rational decision considering Clyde Drexler was flourishing in Rip City and not one person with even the greatest basketball knowledge predicted Jordan would march on to such prominence.
A detail that in retrospect is even more disappointing for Portland was what transpired several weeks prior to the Bowie-over-Jordan verdict.
Before there was ever a draft lottery, a coin flip between the two last-place teams determined who would receive the No. 1 overall pick. While obviously in hindsight, every general manager would have picked Jordan with that top choice in 1984, another eventual Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon, was actually the unanimous preeminent prospect.
While the Blazers were already a respectable team in ’84, they, along with the Houston Rockets, competed in the highly anticipated coin toss after a trade a few years back with the Indiana Pacers.
Portland received Indiana’s first-round pick after it dealt the relatively anonymous Tom Owens to the Pacers in 1981.
After a preliminary flip by Commissioner David Stern determined the Blazers would decide heads or tails, then Portland owner Larry Weinberg called tails. The 100-year-old silver dollar landed on heads.
As a result, the Rockets secured Hakeem, the Bulls locked up Jordan and sandwiched in between, the Blazers got stuck with one of the most unfortunate careers in league history. The total is eight championships for Chicago and Houston combined and a pile of frustration for Portland.
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