Portland Would Have Drafted Charles Barkley Instead of Michael Jordan

Sam Bowie told documentary filmmakers that he was less-than-forthcoming about the injuries he was suffering from when he was infamously drafted ahead of Michael Jordan in 1984. Bowie now denies it, of course. According to folks who worked for the Portland Trailblazers back then, the team would have chosen Charles Barkley instead of MJ if they didn’t take Bowie. Per the Oregonian: “Anybody that knows me, from the hierarchy in the Portland Trail Blazers during my playing days to my teammates to my friends and family, knows I would never deceive or trick or lie to anybody,’ Bowie said. ‘I wasn’t raised that way. You can call me a lot of things, but don’t look at me as though I deceived or tricked (the organization). I thought I would play 15 years and win a couple championships with the Blazers.’ […] ‘I’m 51 years old now and my legs are broke down,’ he said in the documentary. ‘I’m very proud, don’t feel like I owe an apology to anyone. The bottom line is: Sam Bowie was drafted before Michael Jordan and you’re gonna have to accept that.’ To this point, even 28 years after the draft, Blazers fans have been willing to give Bowie a free pass. Injuries happen. Careers are derailed. In light of Bowie’s checkered past, the Blazers knew there were risks. Besides, his selection made sense in 1984. The Blazers had drafted Clyde Drexler one year earlier and had a talented roster that included Jim Paxson and Kiki Vandeweghe. The missing link was a center. In the weeks leading up to the 1984 NBA Draft, Jordan wasn’t even on the Blazers’ radar. As Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay noted in the ESPN documentary: ‘I don’t remember Michael Jordan’s name being mentioned.’ […] ‘If you look back at the draft,’ Harry Glickman, the Blazers’ de facto team president at the time, said. ‘If we hadn’t selected (Bowie), we wouldn’t have selected Jordan. We probably would have gone with Charles Barkley.'”