Sam Bowie now admits he was not completely honest about the pain in his legs in the lead-up to the 1984 NBA draft, if that makes you feel any better, Portland Trail Blazers fans.
No, we didn’t think it would.
Bowie, the 7-foot-1 center out of Kentucky who was infamously taken one spot ahead of Michael Jordan, is the subject of an upcoming ESPN documentary to which Yahoo! Sports was given a sneak peak. Bowie’s promising rookie season, when he averaged 10.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 76 games, was followed by an injury-plagued 10-year career that ended in 1995.
Bowie makes a number of startling admissions in the documentary, according to Yahoo, such as the defeatist feeling that as he watched Hakeem Olajuwon and Jordan get selected on draft night, he knew “deep down inside I physically wasn’t what these guys were.” That would have been irrelevant, of course, if the Blazers had known about Bowie’s leg ailments.
“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,” Bowie is quoted as saying. “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.”
Blazers fans might find that hard to swallow, but like other myths regarding Jordan that have taken hold over the years, taking a center with All-Star skills over an athletic shooting guard was not as absurd a decision as people pretend it was. The Blazers were stacked on the wings with Clyde Drexler and Jim Paxson. They were supposedly only a big man away from contending for a championship. Even without a dominant center, they still went to the NBA Finals twice in three years.
But Bowie admitting that he lied about the pain that would turn into an assortment of maladies over the next decade is not going to make him any more popular among NBA fans.
Check out Bowie on draft night in the video below.