"What?!?" you say. "How can you NOT pick Bowie-Jordan as the most pivotal moment in Trail Blazers history?!?!?!?" Has there ever been a bigger bungle?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?"
OK, stash your punctuation, hot rod.
You already know the story of Sam Bowie. In fact you probably already know that, in a nod to the national and historical significance of the story, we placed Bowie as the #1 most disappointing Blazer acquisition of all time despite him being a great guy and unfairly vilified over circumstances he couldn't control. Despite that, 1984, though dramatic, wasn't the most pivotal moment in Blazers history for all of the following reasons:
1. The biggest speculation involves what would have happened has the Blazers selected Michael Jordan instead of Bowie. No doubt Portland would have been better off. No argument here...in hindsight that's the pick Portland should have made even if it didn't make much sense at the time. What would have actually happened remains debatable. Jordan may well have brought a slew of titles to the Rose City. On the other hand Jordan may also have scored a million points in his first few seasons and then left for a bigger town and more endorsement money. The fate of Clyde Drexler is another open question whether Jordan stayed or left. Remember...
2. Portland had a pretty nice run with Drexler, admittedly without championships, six years after this draft. That iconic run happened, in part, due to Buck Williams becoming a Blazer because Bowie was traded for him. Jordan still would have been better but the actual gap may not have been as great as perceived.
3. There's some leeway in a list like this to go with an internal view. Nationally, among people who just know the team casually, this would be voted the #1 most pivotal decision ever because Jordan is involved. Knowing the team more intimately, other events made more of a tangible, traceable difference. This was huge, but not the biggest.
Instead of repeating a story that everybody knows, let's expand the hypothetical and open up a question. Was the bigger pivotal moment in 1984 not drafting Jordan or the original coin flip between Portland and Houston for the #1 overall selection which deprived the Blazers of (H)Akeem Olajuwon? I'd almost argue that Olajuwon was the bigger loss. I'm not sure what Jordan would have done to the mix, but a combination of Olajuwon, Drexler, Terry Porter, and Jerome Kersey would have been scary. I even would have lived without Buck in that case, depending happily on Steve Johnson and Caldwell Jones at power forward through the rest of the '80's and Cliff Robinson in the '90's. Jordan would have gotten something in Chicago still but I'd bet that Hakeem in tow would have made championship trophies as common as Beanie Babies in Portland, Michael or no. If you had the choice in '84, which of the two superstars would you have taken?
Debate that and the placement of this draft on our pivotal moment list below.