Friedman: NBA Commissioner David Stern Can't Forget 1984 Draft Because He Fined Blazers $250,000

Alex Trautwig

NBA commissioner David Stern reflects on the Portland Trail Blazers and the 1984 NBA Draft, but not because of Sam Bowie.

There's been lots of talk about the 1984 NBA Draft recently because former Portland Trail Blazers center Sam Bowie, selected No. 2 overall, is appearing in an upcoming ESPN documentary. In case you missed it, Bowie essentially called himself a liar and then quickly walked it back completely. The only good thing to come out of the ordeal was that a bunch of Blazersedge readers got interviewed by NPR for a story about Bowie's comments. (I should have audio soon.)

Anyway, Jason Friedman of Rockets.com got the chance to interview NBA commissioner David Stern in advance of the upcoming 2013 All-Star Weekend in Houston.

Stern was asked for his memories about the 1984 Draft, which saw Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon drafted by the Rockets with the No.1 pick before Bowie went No. 2 and Michael Jordan went No. 3 to the Chicago Bulls. Stern's answer wasn't quite what you might have expected.

JCF: Your first-ever draft as NBA Commissioner, Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon was the No. 1 pick. What was going through your mind as you prepared to call out his name and ultimately greet him on the stage?

DJS: I honestly don't remember. I do remember the night before, though, meeting Hakeem and his mother at an Italian restaurant where we decided for the first time to give the draftees a party. I remember how taken I was with Hakeem and his mom and other family members. And I remember that the ceiling of the restaurant was too low in one section, and I was embarrassed by it.

And I do remember the coin flip (for the right to determine which team would select No. 1 overall that year). I remember a coin flip in my office. And I remember fining Portland for having conversations with Hakeem. You see, the interesting thing for me is my recollections are more about the crises than the good times.

Here's David Dupree's preview rundown of the 1984 Draft for the Washington Post, which mentions the fine.

A 7-foot former soccer player from Nigeria, a 7-1 fifth-year student who missed two of the past three seasons with a broken leg and a dynamic junior who some say is the second coming of Julius Erving will be the first three players selected in Tuesday's NBA draft.

...

Houston finished last in the Western Conference, even with Sampson, and won a coin flip with the Portland Trail Blazers for the first pick. The Rockets already have announced they will take Olajuwon and play him alongside Sampson.

Portland was fined $250,000 by NBA Commissioner David Stern for illegal contacts with Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing of Georgetown, both juniors. But the Trail Blazers still retained the second pick, obtained from the Indiana Pacers in a 1981 trade for Tom Owens. They will use it to take Bowie.

The Trail Blazers also acquired Kiki Vandeweghe, who averaged 29.4 points a game - third-best in the league last season - from the Denver Nuggets for Calvin Natt, Wayne Cooper, Lafayette Lever and a second-round pick this year and a first-round pick next year. The addition of Vandeweghe and Bowie could make Portland, already one of the top teams, one of the most improved next season.

Chicago Bulls Coach Kevin Loughery said he will use the third pick to take Jordan, a 6-6 swing man. "How can you not take a Michael Jordan?" he said.

The Associated Press added this.

So desperate are the Trail Blazers to add Olajuwon to their full stable of guards and forwards that they made indirect but illegal contact with him and fellow All-American Patrick Ewing of Georgetown to discuss NBA draft procedures. For that Stern fined them $250,000 on Monday, the largest fine in league history.

General Manager Stu Inman said if the Blazers lose the flip, they would probably take Kentucky 7-footer Sam Bowie with the No. 2 choice.

"Our thinking at the moment is Olajuwon, Bowie, in that order," Inman said from Portland.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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