Sam Bowie and the 1984 draft: A Cautionary Tale

Gatinho —  June 27, 2007

“You can’t pass up a great player at the big position for a great player at a another position…history bears this out.”

-Bill Fitch

On the eve of the 2007 draft the Portland Trailblazers are caught, once again.

Select the anchor in the middle, the man who has the back to the basket game that so many teams have as their number one need?

Or select the dynamic wing player. The man who may be that combination of creativity, athleticism, and desire to win that only comes along a handful of times per generation?

Well, the Trailblazers have been there before.

Filip Bondy’s Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever, chronicles the last time the fans in Rip City anxiously awaited and then desperately tried to forget what it was like to have a top 2 pick.

Bondy’s work goes in depth to show the machinations and thoughts that go along with the difficult process of evaluating talent and extrapolating what it will look like in the future.

The book is a treasure trove of anecdotal wealth. With multiple stories and story lines, one can gain a more dramatic view of the events of that draft and how they are still repercussing throughout the league and the fate of its individual franchises.

The novel describes the series of events and the main players of the ’84 draft who became difference makers and follows them from college, through the draft process, into their early NBA impact, and finally to where and if they fit into the pantheon of legends.

Hakeem Olajuwon, picked first by Houston, Charles Barkley, picked 5th by the 76ers, John Stockton, picked 16th by the Jazz and, of course, Michael Jordan, somehow drafted third.

In contrast we also follow the paths of the lesser lights, Sam Perkins, a solid pro, drafted 4th by Dallas and the outright blunder of the Sam Bowie pick, drafted second by Portland ahead of Jordan. The subtitle of this book could easily have been The Ballad of Sam Bowie.

The profile of Barkley is driven by his quotable quotes and shows how intelligent and unique of personality he is and was. It puts readers back in touch with the college “Porky Pig on a Trampoline” Barkley and the pro “I’m not a role model” Barkley. His verbal exasperation at being drafted by the Sixers allows for a laugh out loud moment, one of a bundle that the book provides.

The career arc of Sleepy Sam Perkins illuminates the unpredictability and human element of the outcome of this yearly crap shoot. Bondy shows that there are dissenting evaluations about the career and success of Perkins as a draft pick still unsettled in the present day.

Was he a great pick ‘chemistry-wise’? He had a long career littered with playoff trips. Or was he an under aggressive and undersized player who never found his niche until his teams and coaches recognized his weaknesses and emphasized his strengths?

Stockton turns out to be an unlikely star in the novel, just as he was in the NBA. Frank Layden was the man doing the drafting in Utah in 1984 and hearing Stockton’s story told through his sarcastic sense of humor makes it that much more enjoyable. Bondy gives us insight into the always stoic Stockton, fleshing out the man who would be passed on by 15 teams only to later become one of the game’s greatest.

But the title of the novel and its bold hypothesis seem ambitious for the books content. It floats through your head as you turn the pages and there never seems to be that moment, “Oh, that’s how the 1984 draft changed the NBA forever.” It left me thinking that we could say that about a lot of NBA drafts, but it is more appropriate for 1984 because of the anomaly and innovator that Michael Jordan would come to be. As the 1984 draft unfolds you can’t help thinking about Barkley, Stockton, and Olajuwon. While he was playing, Jordan single-handedly kept the rings off the hands of this draft class.

He changed the NBA forever through his impact on the marketing of NBA players, his career beginning the oft-criticized era of players being marketed ahead of teams, and through his ground breaking ability to make money as salesman off the court. It was previously thought that an African-American athlete couldn’t be a pitchman for big brands, and Jordan definitely put all that on its ear.

The question becomes what was changed inside the game? After Jordan didn’t every GM’s dream return to being about drafting the next great big man? Are GM’s any less covetous of the next back to the basket center that will forever change the way the opposition defends their team?

1984 changed the NBA “forever” in that it was the impetus for the draft lottery after teams suspiciously lost games down the stretch. But did the lottery really change that or are we still watching players sit with suspicious injuries while they giggle on the bench in street clothes?

If anything Tip-Off does a wonderful job of chronicling the continuing nuances and pitfalls of the draft. Bondy has painstakingly researched and interviewed the players in this drama to create a book that is almost encyclopedic in knowledge. His straight-forward newspaper style will not put him among the more romantic sports novelists, but this book deserves its place.

If Tip-Off were to be paralleled with an ’84 draftee, it would be the other pick Portland made in the draft, the pick that a Portland fan may point to when being ridden about the Sam Bowie debacle, Jerome Kersey. Kersey, drafted 46th, would play 11 years with the Blazers, score 12,000 points and get 6,000 rebounds over his career. He was a solid workman-like pro that would be an important cog in the contending Blazers of the early 90’s.

This might be a difficult read for Portland fans who suffered through the ‘84 draft and the subsequent thrashings by the man they could have drafted, but to say that they are once again between a rock and a hard place is laughable. What team or fan wouldn’t want their Oden or Durant dilemma?

For this draft and any other, the cliche of “time will tell” rules.

“Always pick the best athlete…to choose by position or need [is] utter folly.”

-Scott Thompson aka Gatinho



to Sam Bowie and the 1984 draft: A Cautionary Tale

  1. Kupcake is saying today :-
    “We felt the team underachieved last year,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said last week. “We could stick with the group as it is today, or we can look to be aggressive and try to get to that next level. Either way, we think we’ll be a talented team next year.”

    The whole link…;_yl…v=ap&type=lgns

    So He is not trading…????


  2. Wednesday, June 27, 2007
    Trade buzz on eve of draft

    Minnesota would prefer to do the KG deal with Atlanta and Phoenix, which would send the Hawks’ No. 3 and No. 11 picks to the Wolves, with Amare Stoudemire going to Atlanta.

    But the Suns would prefer to move Shawn Marion to a team like the Celtics, and Jim Gray reported Tuesday night that talks have been rekindled. However, sources say that such a deal is unlikely. Marion doesn’t want to play in Boston without a huge contract extension (something Boston will likely balk at) and Minnesota still wants Al Jefferson in that deal.

    • As I wrote in the blog on Tuesday, that’s not the only trade the Hawks are considering. On Tuesday, I wrote that the Hawks were pursuing Luke Ridnour and were willing to give up the No. 11 pick to make it happen. If the Hawks can’t land Stoudemire, this seems like the most plausible trade scenario for Atlanta. It would end the Hawks’ drought at the point guard position and free them up to take Al Horford or Yi Jianlian (yes, he’s still in the picture) at No. 3.

    If the Sonics get No. 11, sources say they will likely select Eastern Washington combo guard Rodney Stuckey.

    • If the Lakers get left out in the cold on a KG deal … what’s the next move? They could probably wrangle Zach Randolph from the Blazers for Lamar Odom. Or they could send Odom, Andrew Bynum and the No. 19 pick to Indiana for Jermaine O’Neal.

    If forced to choose, the Lakers would probably prefer Randolph because he would cost them much less. Apparently there is significant interest in Bynum, which could net the Lakers a top-10 pick in the draft.


  3. My fears are comiung true…

    1. The Lakers are pursuing large superstar deals where they would have to give up a lot to get a star back. They aren’t willing to give up everything, so nothing is happening.

    2. Kupchak is making identical statements he made last year to protect himself. He’s saying that they are good “as is”, and they “underacheived” last year. This is another way of saying that he can’t get a deal done for the Lakers.

    3. The front office is overlooking smaller deals that could make this team better. A deal that could move us up in the draft, trading Kwame’s contract away, or get us a younger impact player (Gerald Wallace, Josh Smith, etc.) are not being made.

    I have a feeling there is going to be some fire works flying if nothing gets done with this team.

    One more time with my favorite trade…

    Lakers trade:
    Jordan Farmar
    Andrew Bynum
    Vlade Radmanovic

    to Atlanta for:
    Josh Smith
    Speedy Claxton
    #3 pick

    If you really think about that trade we’re a MUCH better team, and so is Atlanta.

    PG: Conley/Claxton
    SG: Kobe/Evans
    SF: Smith/Walton
    PF: Odom/Turiaf
    C: Kwame/MLE (Magloire?)


  4. Why not this trade?

    Lakers get KG

    Boston gets Lamar Odom

    Minnesota gets #5, Bynum, expiring contracts

    Salary cap issues aside, why wouldn’t each team make this trade?


  5. Could we keep this topic about the draft?

    Gatinho, about the ’84 class, people just keep forgetting that there was no way anyone could predict how good Jordan would be! Surely, he was good, but what happened was unpredictable, if you take a good look at Jordan’s UNC career. Parallel to that, does anyone remember Rodman’s PPG average during college? It’s a crapshot everytime, except for Lebron, Shaq and Duncan (and a few others)

    Sam Bowie was a VERY good and dominant player in college and while the Blazers covered the SG spot with Drexler a year before, they had no quality big man. Could they have traded Drexler to Chicago for pick #3? Sure they could have… But put yourself in the Blazers GM spot at that time:
    “Ok, we got Hakeem, Sam, Jordan and Barkley… Barkley talks too much and will give us problems… Hakeem is Houston’s choice… Hmmm, that Jordan guy is pretty good but Sam was dominant and we don’t have a good C. Oh right, we got Clyde for the SG spot last year… I’m taking Sam!!! Die Lakers die!!!!”



  6. P Henry,
    Because that would make too much sense


  7. Here’s my trade *yes, it involves the draft

    Lakers send Kobe to Minnesota
    Minnesota sends KG to Miami, #7 to Los Angeles
    Miami sends Shaq to Los Angeles



  8. Renato you are absolutely right. The old joke is the “Who’s the onlyperson to hold Jordan under 20 points?” Dean Smith.

    Bowie was a quality player in college and convinced Portland of his worth by outplaying Hakeem and Ewing in games his senior year, but he had the micro-fracture shin problems in college and after the difficulties w. Bill Walton and a similar injury you would think that might have made them more cautious.

    The Portland GM in fact did not draft Jordan because of Drexler, and this book is for sure about hindsight being 20-20.


  9. My comment (#3) pertains to the draft. We would be moving up in the draft, AND getting a solid starter in Josh Smith.

    The #3 pick is HUGE this year. If we could get a guy like Mike Conley Jr. to run the point on this team, we would be nasty. Conley is a Chris Paul type of player, and he can shoot lights out.

    We have to give up quality to get qualiy back. I’m not sure the front office gets this.


  10. P Henry, yeah I was thinking about something similar with the Hawks.

    Lakers get KG
    Hawks get Odom
    MN gets Bynum, Kwame, #3, next year’s LA #1


  11. “people just keep forgetting that there was no way anyone could predict how good Jordan would be! ”
    I think that’s a little bit of an overstatement. Granted I wasn’t alive yet, and all the UNC footage I’ve seen from those days might be colored by my knowledge of what he became, but he looked like a singular talent from everything I’ve seen. Bowie averaged just over 10 a game his last year (compared to 19.6 for Jordan shooting a ridiculous 55%). And from what I’ve read, Portland fans at the time remember feeling pretty outraged at the pick.


  12. warren (philippines) June 27, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Odom to the Hawks for #3 would not happen. If it did, it will change the story as a whole.

    I prefer the JO trade now. One that sounds Odom + Walton for JO. We can still trade for Artest using Kwame + #19 (if they take it) and we still have Bynum.

    I intend to trade Bynum to the Bucks for the #6 and draft Yi. I have reason to believe he is the real sleeper in the draft. Jerry West could see this and I think Memphis will take him at the #4 unless Conley convinces them otherwise.


  13. The conventional wisdom on why people “missed” on Jordan was that they didn’t know that his drive and poise would blossom as they did in NBA. They knew he would be a physical talent, but they couldn’t measure his drive to win.

    As far as Bowie is concerned, it is hard to forgive Portland because they had themselves convinced that he might even be better than Hakeem. They were that far off.


  14. Fallen under a conspiracy theory ..

    reported that KG called Kobe to see if he’d still want out if he came to LA………………………do you think that Kobe told him that he still wanted out and to stay away?


  15. Source: KG Prefers Phoenix Over Lakers
    Los Angeles Times – 06/27 – 2:40 PM EST
    A source close to Kevin Garnett has said that he has Phoenix higher than the Lakers on a short list of preferred destinations.

    “He definitely wouldn’t mind getting alley-oops from Steve Nash,” the source said


  16. Gatinho, awesome job.

    I also thought one of the other reviews I read (Sports Guy?) said this book suggested Houston offered Ralph Sampson for the #2. That would have been a disaster for Portland, worse that Bowie I think. But Houston wanted to draft Jordan #2. Imagine a Hakeem/Jordan duo…..


  17. if this Phoenix thing for KG goes down, I think Atlanta makes a play for Kobe. Cucake gets outsmarted again.


  18. The above link says that Boston is unlikely to trade the #5 pick. If I’m not mistaken, That means the BOS/ MIN/ PHX 3way is dead.

    Apparently now the new rumor is PHX / MIN / ATL with Stoudemire having to go to ATL to make it happen.

    I thought everybody in PHX was saying last week how Amare is “untouchable” and they can’t afford KG and don’t want to be in a position to pay the luxury tax.

    My point is that ESPN is full of BS and every big story they have come out with this offseason has been wrong. This ATL trade could be false too. I think we are still very much a possibility for KG. If PHX comes out and says NO STOUDEMIRE, then what ?


  19. the lakers are (or should be) trying to get rid of draft picks and young players in order to keep kobe. they need to acquire proven veterans to win now. otherwise the lakers of 2008 will be shopping their star like the twolves of 2007.


  20. 14. ugggg… the thought of this being a possibility makes me sick.

    Right now, all the rumours are spinning around ATL and not Boston… but the question that I immediately had, and the sports guy just mentioned, is this…

    if ATL is requiring Amare for the #3… why doesn’t Minn just take him for KG??? I thought they only needed a third (4th) team because Amare was off limits and Marrion does not want to go to Minn… If Amare is on the table… don’t they push for him directly?

    Frankly, I can’t keep up… but my deepest fear is that nothing will work out, and next thing you know… we’ve traded Kobe to boston for Yi, Wally, Ratliff and Green. at which piont I’ll have broken the DLP, and on my way to a divorce.


  21. Kevin Garnett is close to going to the Phoenix Suns
    Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett is close to going to the Phoenix Suns in a monumental three-way trade that would send Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire to the Atlanta Hawks , league sources said Wednesday.

    Atlanta would move the Nos. 3 and 11 picks in Thursday’s draft, as well as Zaza Pachulia and Anthony Johnson, to Minnesota.

    Minnesota owner Glen Taylor has delivered a mandate to his basketball executives to get a deal done, one league executive said.

    Yahoo! Sports has learned that the trade would also save the Hawks from an emerging showdown between the front office and coaching staff over whom to draft with the third pick. The front office and coaching staff had settled on Florida power forward Al Horford, but a faction of the Atlanta Spirit ownership group, with business interests in China, is pushing them to take Yi Jianlian.

    The deal hinges on Atlanta general manager Billy Knight saying yes, as well as Hawks ownership, which is mired in lawsuits, being willing to increase payroll. It is believed that star Hawks guard Joe Johnson talked to his former Suns teammate on Wednesday and that the 24-year-old Stoudemire, a first-team All-NBA choice, told him that he’d welcome the trade.


  22. Why would Minnesota rather have picks than Amare? This makes no sense. Why not just go straight up MIN and PHX?

    And If Stoudemire was on our team… would we trade him for KG right now?


  23. skigi,

    I have no idea why Minnesota would want the picks over Amare. It’s waaayyy beyond me. At best they hope one of those guys becomes an All-NBA player, but Amare is one, and he’s 24.

    Strange. And it’s not like the cap space they would be saving would go to a big free agent in the coming years. What, Lebron is going to bail on Cleveland to go to Minny?

    The key is to get good players young and then have the opportunity to offer them bigger contracts than the rest of the league.

    I guess Minny will take Horford with 3, Brewer with 7, and hope for Noah at 11. Any second rounder where they can take Lee Humphrey or Taurean Green?


  24. If you are having heart palpitations now I suggest you shut down the computer until tomorrow afternoon. There is so much ‘trash’ floating around right now that it is impossible to distinguish what is real from what is ‘memorex’.

    warren loves to float trade ideas. I believe that analysts who are paid to write do the same thing warren does. The only difference is that warren presents his proposals as ideas and the analysts present them as ‘ongoing negotiations’. However, they have the same level of fact attached.


  25. Thanks, Kurt.

    There was an even crazier trade where Jordan (the 3 pick) would have gone to the Sixers for their number 5 and Dr. J.


  26. Ya, I’m not getting it either. As far as tradeabliitiy, in my view Amare > KG > all the picks in this draft not numbered 1 or 2. Unless they’re seriously concerned about Amare’s knees or something and know something we don’t. And I agree with Drew and Skigi that the choice between Amare and picks should be a no-brainer for Minny, although counting on them to be logical now might be giving them too much credit given their history. I will say that if Amare ends up in Atlanta, that team suddenly becomes one of the most exciting teams in the East


  27. Of course Minnesota wants Atlantas 3, 11 pick who wouldn’t . With those picks they could get Horford who I think will be a Brand type player, and they would still have 7 and 11. They could still pick up a Brewer and a PG. They would be young and very talented and still have some cap space to work with. As far as the MJ draft goes, everyone knew that MJ was a athletic specimen but no one knew his drive to be the best. When he first came in the league he was selfish and just dunked on everyone it wasn’t until he was inthe league for a couple of years that he started to become reallly dominant. besides that there have been other huge blunders in the Draft. Olawakandi, Kwame Brown. Stockton was not taken until 13 and malone was taken at 16. I bet there are alot of teams wishing they had gotten either of those two players with a higher pick. Tony PArker went 28. Manu ws 2nd to last at 58. Brilliant draft by the spurs stupid by everyone else.


  28. Could it be that players, like Garnett, ask a lot from the Lakers, because Kobe and Shaq were right. The organization is very difficult to work for, so you need some hardship pay or perks. All business, and no fun with this organization and that’s why they’re struggling. Sell the team, Buss.


  29. The Lakers are on the verge of blowing it again…They will fall further below the Suns and are on the verge to cellar dweller status..

    And I heard Kupchak on the radio saying some stupid stuff about adding a player or 2……This moron hasn’t added any good players in his time….

    get ready for another brutal blow coming soon from Kobe….


  30. Heres a draft choice that would have been for the ages that I just read about. Pat Riley had to be talked out of taking Chris Kaman at the #5 pick in 2003. Taking Kaman over Wade would have been a blunder for the ages.


  31. I’ll be at the NBA draft tomorrow night at MSG…sad to say, I doubt I’ll be wearing my Lakers gear. (b/c it’s a long sleeve warm-up jacket).

    There is just so much up in the air re: trades…so it should be interesting.


  32. 14: that would not surprise me. we know kobe has the kind of determination to destroy a team (in this case, it would be his own team).


  33. Not sure anymore if this is good news for us

    Three-team deal with Garnett, Stoudemire cools
    By Chad Ford
    Updated: June 27, 2007, 10:57 PM ET
    The Minnesota Timberwolves’ attempts to get a great deal for Kevin Garnett hit a major roadblock on Wednesday afternoon, sources told

    According to multiple sources, the Timberwolves have been talking to multiple teams about finding a third team to help facilitate a Garnett trade.

    As reported on Tuesday evening, Minnesota was looking to acquire Atlanta’s No. 3 and No. 11 picks in the draft along with several cap-friendly contracts from the Hawks and Phoenix Suns. To participate, Atlanta wanted Amare Stoudemire from Phoenix.

    On Wednesday, sources say one of the Hawks owners vetoed a hypothetical deal for Stoudemire.

    The Suns claim to have never had any direct contact with the Hawks about a deal. While they have shown strong interest in acquiring Garnett, the deal never reached a stage where they were asked by either team to give up Stoudemire and never offered him in a trade.

    While teams like the Lakers and Suns will continue to pursue Garnett, and the Wolves seem intent on trading him, sources say that it’s unlikely a deal goes down by the time of the draft.


  34. If the Garnett/Lakers trade negotiation details provided today by Hacksaw are not simplified or inaccurate, it sheds light on hidden difficulties in putting together a trade. Instead of paying $22 million next year for Garnett, they had to pay $28. Similar requirements on Phoenix forced them to unloadAmare–and may still put pressure on a contract for Marion.

    For Phoenix, a Duncan stopper may seem a necessity, but the longer term costs could undermine the team.

    I still feel that the Lakers are much better served at finally getting serious about a point guard or moving up in the draft right now.

    This is not the time to get a superstar bargain.


  35. Gatinho.
    Great review, you could almost look at that draft as the second breath of life for the NBA after Magic and Bird. After that draft class they figured out how to really market and push players into what we see now.
    Maybe the only question is how does ’84 compare to ’96?


  36. Even though it’s in the Lakers; best interest, I really do feel for Atlanta. As much as we piss and moan about Lakers’ ownership, the sort of middling mediocrity of ourfront office can’t hold a candle to the incompetece they’re suffering through. Belkin’s veto of the Amare trade (even though I maintain the Suns were never actually considering giving him up) has to be one of the most frustrating things any front office has ever done for a fanbase. Atlanta was CLEARLY coming out on top of that proposed trade.

    When the lottery gave them two top-11 picks, I thought to myself, “No way they botch that in this draft.” Now, I’d be shocked if they don’t completely screw themselves over. Yi might have potential on some teams, but I feel extremley confident he’d be a bust on that team. And the 11th pick for Ridnour? Are you kidding me.

    What a terrible mess.


  37. Even though it has been mandated–and rumors abound–I’d be amazed if Kevin Garnett went anywhere before the draft. The light went on when I realized that these three way deals were coming from McHale, not Kerr.

    For Phoenix, it’s Marion + whatever for KG; for the Lakers, it’s Odom + Bynum. For the T’Wolves, it seems to be young players and/or draft picks.

    No deal.

    So the T’Wolves look for third and fourth teams to give them their mix.

    Even farther from a deal.

    If Garnett opts out, the T’Wolves get the cap room automatically. They can use that cap space to sign whatever free agents they want, not just what is offered in a trade.

    When one adds in Garnett’s poison pill contract, why would one try to satisfy Garnett AND McHale this year when anyone can negotiate with Garnett alone next year?


  38. Breaking News …
    The Lakers have offered a multi-year contract to 30-year-old guard Theodoros Papaloukas, according to Eleftheros Tipos, a newspaper in Greece. The report said Papaloukas had confirmed the offer and was pondering it among a handful from NBA teams. Lakers officials declined to comment. Papaloukas, a Greek native who is listed at 6 feet 7, was the Euroleague player of the year last season with CSKA Moscow, and is widely thought to be the best point guard in Europe.”


  39. It is not only the KG poison pill. Read the stories about Kerr bankrupting the Lakers and all the other ‘garbage’ out there. The fans and the analysts are ratcheting up the pressure on the Laker front office to do something – something big!

    Here’s hoping the experienced among the front office – read Jerry Buss and Mitch – are able to shed all this pressure like water on a duck’s back. What we need is thoughtful and forward steps to making the team better next year. Junking everything in the past to get a different future is not normally very productive.

    it is instructive to reread drrayeye’s comments: ‘If Garnett opts out, the T’Wolves get the cap room automatically. They can use that cap space to sign whatever free agents they want, not just what is offered in a trade.’

    What he says is equally true of Kobe in two years. Let’s move forward with a reasonably short-term plan and recognize that Kobe’s view may very well be different when we get two years down the road. If it is not, then we wil be well under the salary cap and have far more options than we do today.


  40. Thanks St625.

    The window is closing on ’96. it still could be one for the ages, but 2003 could have a book written about it as well.


  41. I like the offer to Papaloukas… If we are going to look for a PG with the MLE, I’m not too fond of our options in the NBA. Steve Blake, Jason Hart, Earl Boykins? All those guys are backups and the starters that are out there, Mo Williams and Chauncey are too expensive for us. I watched Papaloukas destroy the US team with a steady stream of pick and rolls last year that gave the US team nightmares. Also, he is a Euroleague MVP and has been on big stages before. Thats what we need here in “Hollywood”… a PG thats not going to wilt under the pressure (Smush)


    Here’s a youtube video of Papaloukas


  43. Gatinho- ’96 draft will have a couple hall of famers, it may give ’84 a run. Kobe, Iverson, Nash. 3 Hall of famers (it hurts so much to advocate Nash as a HOF’er). Plus Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury, Marcus Camby, Jermaine O’neal, Ilgauskus, Peja, Atoine Walker and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.


  44. Maybe someone can clarify this for me. Can GS use the trade exception they got for the richardson trade in a deal to get Garnett? Also can Wright be traded again since they just traded for him? He probably can since the season has not started but I am not 100% what the rules are.


  45. The comment about Bowie only averaging 10 points per game as a senior is a bit misleading. Bowie was still coming back from his leg injury (where he had been out of action for 2 years) when he returned to the court in 1983-84. He played for a Kentucky team that already had an established inside scorer in Melvin Turpin along with a future All-American forward in Kenny Walker. Bowie was not asked to score very much for that team. His main role was to play the high post where he fed other players (either Turpin or Walker inside or set up outside shooters), defend, rebound etc.

    Those who question Bowie’s abilities are IMO those who never really saw him play pre-injury. When he was a freshman and sophomore, he was one of the most versatile and athletically gifted big man ever. As a freshman he was named to the ill-fated US Olympic basketball team and was the top player and scorer in exhibtions against NBA players. As a sophomore he was named to numerous All-American teams.

    Of course the big question was not Bowie’s abilities, as much as whether he would bounce back well enough from injury to return to his previous playing self. He was well on his way before he got injured yet again as a pro.


    PS, for more info on this, feel free to check out the linked webpage.