So what exactly was the Portland Trail Blazers’ thought process behind passing up Michael Jordan for Sam Bowie with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft?
The shooting guard they selected the year before, Clyde Drexler, took Frank Isola and Stacey King through the decision on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
They [the Blazers] wanted a center. And remember, Hakeem Olajuwon was in that draft. But we lost a coin flip where we couldn’t get Hakeem. And so now, they had to pick whether they pick another two-guard. Remember, we had a guy named Jim Paxson, John Paxson‘s brother. Jim was an All-Star NBA second-team player at the two-guard. Before that, they drafted a guy named Jeff Lamp, from Virginia, played with Ralph [Sampson]. And they drafted me the following year. So they said, “Are we gonna draft two-guards every single year?” And so that was a dilemma. We got a guy like Michael – a guy named Clyde Drexler – he’s not playing much for us either. […] Sam [Bowie] could really play. He was highly skilled. And remember, Portland had a lot of success with another big man who was often injured as well, by the name of Bill Walton. So they were trying to relive those championship days. Dr. Jack Ramsay was the head coach, and they were trying to get the same kind of mode together. The seven-footer who can pass, and shoot from the outside, and block shots. And all the other guys kinda fit in.
Could Drexler and Jordan, two shooting guards by trade, have worked in Portland’s backcourt? Obviously, Clyde said.
“Would’ve been easy. We both played three positions, I think we can find two that we can coexist with,” Drexler said. “Michael and I, looking back at it, would’ve been great together. We actually had a guy by the name of Mychal Thompson, who was the No. 1 pick in the ’78 draft. His son, Klay Thompson, plays for the Warriors. Mychal came out in the paper and said, ‘Hey, we lost a coin flip to Olajuwon. So it only makes sense to get Jordan. Him and Clyde will dominate the league for many, many more years to come. But we gotta draft him.’ Well, the coaching staff and the general managers called him in the office and said, ‘Hey, we will fine you for making silly remarks in the public.’ They should’ve gave him a raise and listened to him!”
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