Thursday, February 16, 2017

Common Denominator: 1984 NBA Draft

"Drafted 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 1984 NBA Draft, to be exact. Met up with Boston at some point in the 1985/86 season, with some drama."

That would be Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam Bowie, and of course, Micheal Jordan. The Dream went first, to Houston, where he joined Ralph Sampson to form, The Twin Towers. Sam Bowie went second to Portland, and MJ to Chicago.

MJ took his team to the playoffs in 1984/85, but the Milwaukee Bucks beat 'em 3-1 in the first round, and that was the end of his first season in the league. His second season was sort of like Bowie's: Injured!

Bowie went down after 38 games. But Sam, who'd taken his team to the second round of the postseason in 1984/85, was showing potential. The Boston Celtics lost just one game at home that regular season, and Sam had something to do with it.

It was game number 20 on the season for Boston. They came in 17-2. Bowie's Portland Trail Blazers were just 12-10. Another win for Boston? Not in this contest on December 6th.

Not quite. Okay, Larry Bird had 20 points, 11 boards and 7 assists. But, his field goal percentage was bad: 9-26!

The ex-Trail Blazer, Bill Walton, who took 'em all the way back in 1976/77, played 18 minutes, and scored just 2 points, turning the ball over 5 times. Robert Parish, the man Walton backed up at centre, scored just 12 points himself. Parish shot 5-11 and Walton 1-3. The man guarding them was Sam Bowie.

All Sam did was score 18 points (8-15 from the field). Jim Paxon, who's younger brother John played with MJ in Chicago, poured in 16 and fellow back court man Clyde Drexler scored 19 himself. Steve Colter and Jerome Kersey (The other player Portland took in the 1984 draft) were the surprising game-high scoring leaders in this contest. By scoring 22 each for the visitors, they helped their team to a rather stunning 121-103 blowout!

MJ sat around that year, hurt. So it was up to The Ice Man to cometh! Well, the Minnesota Iceman. George Gervin played guard that year for Chicago. In Jordan's absence, he scored 16.2 points per game. The only game, out of 6, that Chicago actually beat Boston in that season was later in December, the 17th. Chicago won at home as Gervin scored 19.

Okay, so back came Jordan on March 15th. He'd played 3 games at this point. His minutes were to be limited, so his performance wasn't like what you'd expect of him. Remember, this was years before guys named Pippen, Grant, Armstrong and Cartwright (Centre for New York in 1985/86) would arrive. On the 21st of the month, he got 20 points in 16 minutes in a loss against the Celtics. Michael was back over 20 minutes a game by his seventh game back. He got 22 points vs. New Jersey on the 28th of March. He started 4 of the next 8 games, averaging 29.8 minutes and 28.0 points per game. A nice way to close out the season.

Try as he might, he couldn't propel his team past Larry Bird and company in the playoffs. Jordan scored 49 points in Boston in the first contest of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. His big game, though, was then next one!

The Bulls had lost 123-104. They also lost game two, on April 20th in Boston. But was MJ ever on fire! 22-41 from the field and 19-21 from the line! All this for an amazing 63 points! MJ enjoyed ribbing Bill Walton over the fact that The Redhead had fouled out in this contest, even years later. Jordan also dished out 6 assists and 5 rebounds. However, here we go again, Boston 135, Chicago 131. The Celtics had a more balanced scoring. But it was MJ's second of many great scoring games in the postseason! He'd arrived!

After sweeping Chicago, it was not long after that Boston was in the NBA grand stage again: The Finals!

Waiting for them were the Houston Rockets. You see, Hakeem and company eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, needing just 5 games. Hakeem got 30 points in the clincher, making the trip to the last stage in only his second season!

Olajuwon was outstanding in his first NBA Finals. Points? 24.7. Rebounds? 11.8. Blocks? 3.2. Sampson, however, wasn't up to the task, 14.8, 9.5 and 0.8. And though it went six games, Boston ended up having an easy time in all their wins except game four (106-103), en route to their third NBA Championship of the decade.

But Hakeem had sure shown he was a force to be reckoned with. Although Jordan won three in a row from 1990/91 to 1992/93 (Beating Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals, who'd drafted Bowie because they already had a pretty good guard named Clyde Drexler), here came the big man from Lagos, Nigeria! His pal Sampson's career ended due to injuries, but the big man soldiered on. In 1993/94 it was the Knicks and Patrick Ewing that were the victims of the Houston Rockets' seven-game win in the finals. The next year, a kid named O'Neal of the Orlando Magic (Who'd beaten MJ's Chicago Bulls in the playoffs) felt the full force of Olajuwon's fury in the finals: 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and even 5.5 assists per game!

Four games, and it was all over. Shaq had 28.0/12.5/6.3 in a losing effort. His time would come, but not then. His team was swept by MJ's the next year, and the Bulls were back for another 3-peat.

Bowie wasn't quite so lucky. Beset by knee injuries even before being drafted, he hung around until 1994/95, and ending up facing Olajuwon a lot, no matter what jersey he was wearing. Although limited to just 512 games, Sam wasn't exactly the bust that so many made him out to be. On Boxing Day in 1991, now with New Jersey, Sam lit up Hakeem, outscoring him 2:1 (34-17). Sam averaged 15 points per game that year. He ended up in Los Angeles (Lakers) but didn't end up winning a ring like Jordan or Olajuwon.


Sports Reference LLC. - Basketball Statistics and History. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

Bondy, Filip. Tip-off: How The 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2007. Print.

Halberstam, David. Playing For Keeps: Michael Jordan And The World He Made. New York: Broadway Books, 2000. Print.

Sachare, Alex. The Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia. Lincolnwood (Chicago): Contemporary , 1999. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment