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Looking Back at Drafting Sam Bowie

Nearly 40 years ago, the Blazers made one of the poorest NBA Draft decisions in history.

Portland Trailblazers: Sam Bowie Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images

The 1984 NBA Draft has gone down in the history books and has a special place in NBA history nearly 40 years later.

In the final year without a proper draft lottery, the Houston Rockets won the coin flip against the Portland Trail Blazers to select first.

The top three picks in the draft — Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie and Michael Jordan — were all seen as franchise-altering players.

Due to his Houston roots and collegiate success, it was no surprise when the Rockets selected hometown hero Olajuwon with the first pick.

With the second pick, the Blazers had the choice between Bowie and Jordan. Bowie had tremendous success in his senior year at Kentucky, leading his team to the Final Four, while Jordan’s Tar Heels were bounced in the Sweet 16.

On top of that, the Blazers drafted Clyde Drexler to be the team’s future shooting guard the year before and needed a center more than a guard.

With all of this in mind, the Blazers took Bowie, and it was seen by many as the right decision.

Unfortunately, the Blazers passed on Jordan, who arguably had the best career in NBA history while Bowie became known as the player selected ahead of him.

Bowie played just four injury-riddled seasons in Portland before being traded to the New Jersey Nets in 1989.

If the Bowie-Jordan saga teaches us anything, it’s that you should go for the best player available regardless of position when drafting super high.

It’s a common theme in Blazers culture, and something that hopefully won’t happen in this year’s draft.