Saturday, October 22, 2016

Common Denominator: Sam Bowie And Adrian Dantley

One sits proudly in the Hall Of Fame, a teammate of Kareem and Isiah. The other is supposedly the biggest draft bust in NBA history. And they both could have been a teammate of Micheal Jordan for the first (or maybe all three) of three in a row. Different years, of course.

Adrian Dantley came to the NBA, was healthy, and a teammate of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for two seasons. Just as they were about to win, he was no longer a Laker. Worse still, he missed out on playing with Magic Johnson as Los Angeles traded him for Spencer Haywood. One Hall-Of-Famer for another.

Dantley went on to twice lead the league in PPG in the 1980s, but never won a ring. In seven seasons with the Utah Jazz, Adrian averaged 29.6 PPG. But then, he was on the Detroit Pistons, for 1987/88, getting all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Guess who they beat on the way?

Why, the Chicago Bulls!

Then, the next year, they fell to Kareem's Lakers in seven games in the NBA Finals. Just as the Bad Boys were about to embark on a little dynasty, he found himself on the Dallas Mavericks, and watched as Detroit swept Los Angeles in the NBA Finals in 1989, then beat Portlant in five the next season. The Pistons had continued to have Micheal Jordan's number in the playoffs, going 3-0 against them in the postseason from 1988-1990.

So Micheal and company were determined to find away around the Pistons. They sought out Dantley's services in 1990/91 (Having been waived the previous spring), bringing it up to veteran centre Bill Cartwright. The Bulls even talked to one of Dantley's old coaches, Frank Layden. Ultimately, they took a pass. Dantley signed with Milwaukee in April, finishing up his career with them that season.

A little later on that season in Chicago (After sweeping Detroit sans Dantley in the Eastern Conference Finals)...It was "Yes Bull," after years of, "No Bull" in the NBA Finals.

Chicago, of course, went on to win in not only in 1991, but also in 1992, and 1993. How about 1995/96? Well, they were a new team at this point, and many of the old guard was gone. Their centre was Luc Longley, who was not very good. Worse still, the guy couldn't even give you 30 minutes a night! Who could be his backup?

The Bulls had signed James Edwards, the old pro from Detroit, back in the fall of 1995, but he was clearly past his prime. They'd gotten Dennis Rodman, another former Piston in a trade. But he wasn't a centre. Jack Haley had been signed in the fall like Edwards and could play centre. He ended up playing one game all season long.

So the Bulls went after Sam Bowie. Of course, the name Bowie and Jordan are tied forever in the 1984 draft, when Portland picked Bowie second and Chicago of course took Jordan third.

Bowie has seemed like a good pick at the time, in a league dominated by big men. Sam had it toug at the collegiate level, facing some stiff competition some nights. Didn't seem to fair too badly.

Bowie had injury problems, but by the 1990s, they had more or less subsided. And at a very good time, too. Gone (Or on the decline) were Jabbar and Mosses Malone. Replacing them as the dominating big men where Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing. There was a guy named Shaq on the horizon. Hakeem got the better of Patrick in 1994 and then Shaquille O'Neal the next year for two rings.

So, add Bowie? Why not? Sam had retired from the Lakers just before the start of what would be an historic, record-setting season for Chicago in 1995/96. But still...The guy could bring it. From 1989/90 until 1994/95, he'd played 372 out of 492 games, really only missing significant time in 1993/94. Jordan didn't play a single game that year, sitting it out playing some baseball as his interest in basketball appeared to wane.

Jackson liked the idea of Bowie. So did MJ. Bowie attended a Bulls / Knicks game, went to some practices, and heard out Jordan himself. MJ wanted the big guy badly, thinking the NBA Championship would come easier with a centre like Bowie. Certainly it made all the sense in the world.

But Bowie gave it a pass. His interest was now his family, and later, horse racing. Basically, he'd found his calling. That 1984 draft was ancient history. Still, were I in Sam's shoes, I'd have signed right on the spot with MJ. Would have made my life a whole lot easier.


Brown, Clifton. "Despite New Faces, Rivalry Is The Sam." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2016. Online Version Of Original Print, 07 Dec. 1995. <>

Friend, Tom. “ESPN Films Examines Sam Bowie's Legacy.” ESPN: The WorldWide Leader In Sports, ESPN, 20 Dec. 2012, Web. 22 Oct. 2016. Web. 22 Oct. 2016. < espnfilms/story/_/id/8748334/espn-films-documentary-examines-sam-bowie-legacy>

Smith, Sam. The Jordan Rules. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. Print. pp. 192, 207-208.

Sports Reference LLC. - Basketball Statistics and History. 22 Oct. 2016.

Youtube. Web. 22 Oct. 2016. <>

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