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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How The 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever

With the 2008 NBA Draft coming up on Thursday, it is interesting to recall some of the circumstances surrounding the 1984 Draft, which included four members of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players List: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton.

Legends of Basketball has reprinted an interview that I did last year with Filip Bondy, the author of Tip-Off: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever. Even if you read the interview when it was initially published here, the Legends version is worth checking out for some of the photos that they added, including a shot of a young Olajuwon next to brand new NBA Commissioner David Stern:

How The 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:56 AM



At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 9:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

greatest player ever micheal jordan 6 championships the other 3 combined for 2 they were good player it was a great draft because of jordan and the terrible blunder by portland picking sam bowie over micheal jordan yes sam bowie over micheal jordan? without jordan it's just a average draft barkley and stockton never one a championship and were not big in big games. olujawon was great him and jordan made draft i would never take oljuwan over jordan you could justify that they did win 2 rings chicago liked it more because of the 6 they won.

jerry rinsdorf or

At Tuesday, June 24, 2008 11:51:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Olajuwon, Barkley and Stockton are Top 50 players. In addition, Alvin Robertson, Otis Thorpe and Kevin Willis are first round picks from 1984 who made the All-Star team at least once. That is hardly an "average" draft, even without MJ.

Now you seem intent on "proving" not only that MJ was the greatest player ever but that even the other Top 50 players weren't that great.

At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchased the book based on your interview of the author, and it did not disappoint me. I even used it as basis for a short article at a website on all the deals around Michael Jordan - rather than the old "oooh they drafted Bowie ahead of him", it was most interesting to read about how teams "jockeyed" for position and who tried to make trades or deals. Not just figments of somebody's imaginations, but actions, actual attempts at something. The Erving for Jordan deal is something that surprised me, at least.

A great read, and it was the interview that made me purchase the book.

At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 5:30:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I think Mr. Bondy owes me a royalty check :)

Seriously, though, I'm glad that you liked the interview and that you bought the book, because it really is a great read.

At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 2:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He also covered one pet curiosity of mine, the Knight's pre-selection for the 1984 Olympics. I tried emailing Mr Bondy for further information, but to no avail.

Is there any other book that covers that, aside from Barkley's (or not) "Outrageous"?

At Wednesday, June 25, 2008 7:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

otis thorpe alvin robertson and kevin willis okay player barkley great player undersize 4 at 6ft 4 24,000 12,000 4000 pts rebs assitst john stockton 20,000 asists 18,000 points all great hakeem did more wit less than anybody but jordan. micheal jordan elevated the draft without him it's a good draft with him a great one thats what i meant im not saying the other guys werent great at all jordan was the biggest star out of the draft and carried the draft. top 50 is overated bill walton made top 50 and played 2 seasons shaq made top 50 and played 4 seasons at the time joe dumars made hall of fame good player but not hall of fame baseball hall of fame has more credibilty you have to truly be a all time great to make it they have alot of good basketball players in hall of fame and top 50.

At Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:12:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

it did change it the portland trailblazers passed on micheal jordan which allowed the bulls to win 6 rings in 8 years portland 0 thats how it changed barkley was a good player so was stockton hakeem. jordan changed basketball and so did magic and bird the nba would not be nab without them they saved the league it is undisputed.

At Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:26:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I'm not aware of another book that covers the subject of Knight's selection process for the Olympic team.

At Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:30:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You've got some numbers wrong (Stockton had 15,806 assists; he was not even close to 20,000) but I think that I understand what you are trying to say. I still maintain that you are underrating the greatness of those other players because of your MJ fixation.

Also, I disagree that the the Top 50 players are overrated. Walton did not have longevity but at his peak he was the best center (and best player) in the NBA. In that way he is kind of like Gale Sayers or Sandy Koufax.

At Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:31:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree with you: MJ going to Chicago instead of elsewhere obviously changed NBA history and the arrival of so many Top 50 players in the NBA at the same time also had a great impact.

At Friday, June 27, 2008 10:13:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Waltons peak was like two years 76-78. And dont tell me he was better than Kareem then. He definitely shouldnt be top 50 like Oneal shouldnt have been. At least Sayers and Koufax had more than two good years.

At Friday, June 27, 2008 3:54:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Kareem was fantastic but in 1977 and 1978 Walton played at a very high level. He was not the scorer that Kareem was but Walton was a great rebounder, passer and shotblocker. Obviously, Walton was put in the Top 50 on the basis of the talent that he displayed in a brief period of time and not on the basis of career totals, so whether or not he belongs in the Top 50 depends on how you weigh numbers versus talent.

At Sunday, June 29, 2008 5:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

the 98 draft vince carter 8 time all star 2 all nba mike bibby great player dirk 9 time all star 6 all nba mvp pierce 6 time all star 3 all nba antwan jamison 2 time all star rasard lewis all star and bonzi wells as well.

i thought he had 20,000 assists they were all great players and it was a god draft im not fixated with jordan he the best player i ever watched you dont know a good thing till it's gone noone will ever duplicate mike, thats why everything he is in is better than it would if he wasnt in it the nab wouldnt be the nba people wouldnt make the endorsement money or be in the commercials they was in he changed marketing and endorsments and was the first player getting 30 million dollars in one season.

two seasons doesnt make a career alex english and bob mcadoo had better careers in nba than walton they belonged as my dad always has told me englis scored 26,000 points 8 time all star scoreing champ mcadoo 5 time all star 3 all nba mvp 3 time nba chamipon come on they lost credibilty putting walton there and joe dumars in hall of fame.

At Sunday, June 29, 2008 6:42:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Dirk is a seven time All-Star and an eight time All-NBA selection.

McAdoo certainly should have been in the Top 50 but I'm not sure who I would take out. The "50" number was just arbitrary because it was the NBA's 50th anniversary but they probably should have expanded the roster to about 60 and added McAdoo, English, Bernard King and a few others.

Walton was unquestionably a great player but he was not durable, so the issue is how many games/seasons should one have to play to qualify for the list. I don't have a problem with him being in the Top 50 but I can understand why some people would say that he did not play long enough to merit inclusion.

I think that Dumars is worthy of HoF honors but I also think that there are more worthy players (Artis Gilmore, Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, Dennis Johnson to name four) who have yet to be inducted.

At Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

my dad has preached that mcadoo belonged and english would of took shaq off and walton off the list at the time and put them this was in 1997. nuthing aginst walton arguably best college basketball player ever no worse than 2 but to me two good season out of 14 is not enough koufax played 9 borg was good for 7 years gale sayers 5or 6 years walton was 2 time all star 2 time all nba finals mvp league mvp sixth man of the year maybe he belonged i still would favor mcadoo.

joe dumars was a six time all star 2 rings finals mvp 3 all nba teams and 5 all defensive teams maybe im selling him short he just didnt feel like a hofamer but paul pierce has the same resume and people put him in the hall now he's also a six time all star 3 all nba paul avg 23 ppg for career joe 16 he scored 16,000 points joe did.

baseball has 500 home runs as a measureing stick 300 saves 300 wins for pitcher and closer only 24 guys have hit 500 homeruns in like 116 years 24 thats it if not 4 steriods would be alot less. to me that is great 23 pitchers out of all the pitchers ever got 300 wins 300 saves 20 3,000 hits 27.

basically in basketball it should be 20,000-23,0000 points only 31 players in 60 years have scored 20,000 points and everybody on list desreves to be there with no controversy tom heinsohn scored 12,000 points that is not hall of fame worthy that is hall of very good. now i would put pippen he scored 18,000 mchale certain guys under but not too many guys under that but tat is just me you should be elite to be in hall of fame.

At Thursday, July 03, 2008 4:46:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I agree that McAdoo and English belonged on the list; I'm just not comfortable "evicting" any of the 50 who were chosen.

You make a good case that Walton was a marginal selection due to the extreme brevity of this NBA career but every MVP up to that time except for McAdoo made the list. I think that McAdoo was the biggest omission and, if necessary, someone who did not win an MVP should have been bumped. There is just no way that he should have been left off of a Top 50 list, particularly more than a decade ago when guys like Kobe and Duncan were not factors.

I think that you are selling Dumars short. The Pierce comparison is not very good or relevant: they played different positions and had different roles on their teams, so comparing their stats does not really tell us much. If you want to compare stats then you have to compare Dumars to other HoF guards and Pierce to HoF forwards. I think that Dumars belongs in the HoF but I also think that some guys who are just as worthy--if not more so--have been left out.

I don't think that 20,000 points is really a good measuring stick. While most if not all guys who reach that milestone deserve induction, there are plenty of players who did not even get close to that mark who should be in the HoF. Think of Dennis Rodman. There is much more to being a great basketball player than just scoring 20,000 points.

Also, some of the old timers played when there were fewer games per season, no shot clock and shorter careers--guys could literally make more money by retiring and selling insurance or going into other businesses, which more than a few All-Stars of the 50s and 60s did. Heinsohn was a top forward in his era, not as good as Pettit and Baylor but just below that level. His scoring and rebounding were very important to those Celtic championship teams.


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