Former Portland Trail Blazers center Sam Bowie is one of the most infamous draft picks in NBA history. Bowie was a star at Kentucky, and Portland selected him with the second overall pick in the 1984 draft. Michael Jordan was then selected third overall by the Chicago Bulls.
The Blazers passed on Jordan because they already had Clyde Drexler, but had they known everything about Bowie their selection may have been different. In a documentary that is set to air later this month on ESPNU, Bowie revealed that he hid his knee problems from Portland prior to the draft.
“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 explained. “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.”
The folks at Ball Don’t Lie were given a sneak peak of the documentary, which they say shows Bowie laboring up and down the court at times during college and talks about a fractured shin he suffered that went undiagnosed for months. Bowie averaged 10 points and 8.6 rebounds in 76 games of a promising rookie season, but it went downhill quickly from there.
Bowie played only 63 games through his next three seasons with Portland. He was a bit more productive in four seasons with the New Jersey Nets from 1989-1993, but he certainly never lived up to the hype that surrounded him coming out of college. Blazers fans tend to believe they could have had Jordan, but between Drexler and All-Star small forward Jim Paxon already on the roster that likely wasn’t going to happen anyway. However, they probably would have gone in another direction had they known the extent of Bowie’s knee injury.