AKA How we avoided the Curse of Tom Owens
We know …..Walton and Moses, Bowie and Oden, Sabas and Thompson, Duckworth and Dudley……but do you recall the 3rd most important Blazer Big man of aaaaaaaaall?????? Ok…ok….I can hear you all groaning out there ……I will not sing the rest of my essay. But the answer to the question above is ……..Tom Owens!! What? Tom Owens? Who the hell is Tom Owens?? OK, Maybe a little history lesson is needed.
Thomas William Owens was a 6’10”center from the University of South Carolina who drafted by the Memphis Pros of the ABA in 1971 (also drafted in the 4th round by the San Diego Rockets of the NBA). After playing several years in the ABA and a short stint with the Rockets (in Houston), Tom joined the Trail Blazers before the 77-78 season, primarily to be Bill Walton’s backup. His best season as a Blazer was the 78-79 season, where he scored 18.5 ppg and 9 rpg. This was the first full season after Big Bill went down with his infamous foot injury and subsequently left for San Diego (the Clippers, not the Rockets), this was also Mychal Thompson’s rookie season.
After that season his production began to slip and by the 80-81 season he had dropped all the way to 10.6ppg and 5.8rpg. The Blazers traded him to the Indiana Pacers in the summer of 81 for a ........draft pick.
Ok, well, big deal…who cares, right?……Well, except that draft pick in question was the Pacers’ 1st rounder in 1984 (beginning to sound familiar now?)….I can hear the collective “ah-ha….the Bowie pick” from you now. As you all know, 83-84 Pacers had the worst record in the NBA (tied with the tanking Rockets). We lost the coin flip and ……anyway, we all know the rest of the story …..the Blazers take Bowie instead of Jordan and were branded fools. If the Blazers had taken Jordan, then this would have been a essay about the most lopsided trade in the history of the NBA…but alas it was never to be. However it is still a very lopsided trade....when you factor in what was given up (Tom Owens played exactly 74 games for Indiana(@ 10.5ppg/5rpg) and that Bowie was actually a pretty good player when upright (10.9ppg and 7.5rpg over 10 seasons) …plus....we were able to trade Sam for Buck Williams in time for the 89-90 season (we went to the finals). I still believe this is one the best trades by Portland ever!!!!