NBA Draft Busts: Sam Bowie
The 1984 NBA Draft produced four Hall of Famers, including the number one overall pick Hakeem Olajuwon, the number three pick Michael Jordan, the number five pick Charles Barkley, and the number sixteen pick John Stockton. Unfortunately for the Portland Trail Blazers, they missed out on those stars. Sandwiched at number two between NBA greats Olajuwon and Jordan, the Trail Blazers chose 7 foot 1 inch center Sam Bowie from th University of Kentucky.
Bowie had a basketball career ravaged with injuries. His injury struggles hit early on his college career. Bowie played two seasons at Kentucky before suffering debilitating shin injuries which landed him on the side lines for the next two full seasons. He came back during the 1983-1984 season and was named as a second team All-American. Bowie was a risky pick at two because of his extensive history of injuries, but the Blazers needed a center and thought he was a good fit. Bowie had a solid rookie season, averaging 10 points and close to 9 rebounds per game while being named to the All-Rookie team. But Bowie’s progress was halted once again due to nagging injuries. The injuries were so bad that he played in only 63 games during his next four seasons in the NBA. In fact, he missed the entire 1987-1988 season and only played in five games the previous year. The Blazers were fed up with Bowie’s inability to stay healthy so they traded him to the New Jersey Nets during the 1989 off-season. Bowie was finally healthy while playing for the Nets. He spent four seasons with the Nets where he averaged close to 13 points and 8 rebounds per game before leaving as a free agent in 1993. Bowie then signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the injury bug bite yet again, forcing him to retire after the 1995 season. Bowie averaged almost 11 points and 7.5 rebounds per game during his injury plagued career. No one knows how good he could have been if he could just stay on the court.