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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sam Bowie
Position(s) Center
Jersey #(s) 31
Listed height 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)
Listed weight 235 lb (107 kg)
Born March 17, 1961 (1961-03-17) (age 48)
Career information
Year(s) 1984–1995
College Kentucky
Professional team(s)
Portland Trail Blazers (1984-1989)
New Jersey Nets (1989-1993)
Los Angeles Lakers (1993-1995)
Career stats (NBA and/or ABA)
Points     5,564
Rebounds     3,845
Assists     1,075
Career highlights and awards
NBA All-Rookie Team

Samuel Paul "Sam" Bowie (born March 17, 1961, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania) is a retired American basketball player in the National Basketball Association who is probably best known for being selected before Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft.[1] He was a 7'1", 235 lb center.


High school and college

A jersey honoring Bowie hangs in Rupp Arena

As a player at Lebanon High School, Bowie was heavily recruited. He averaged over 28 points and 18 rebounds per game, and was a McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American. As a junior, he led his team to the state finals, where they lost by a point to Schenley High School of Pittsburgh. He was named Player of the Year over another heavily recruited center, Ralph Sampson. However, in a hyped game at the Capital Classic, called "Battle of the Giants" Bowie was outplayed by Sampson. As a freshman during the 1979–80 season at the University of Kentucky, Bowie averaged twelve points and eight rebounds per game.[2] At the end of that season, Bowie was picked for the United States Olympic Men's Basketball Team, which eventually boycotted the Olympics. Bowie's sophomore season saw him average seventeen-and-a-half points and nine rebounds per game; at the end of the season, he was named a third-team NCAA Basketball All-American by the Associated Press. However, his college career was interrupted with severe injuries to his shinbone, and he did not play college basketball for the next two seasons.[3] He returned in time for the 1983–84 season, where he averaged ten-and-a-half points and nine rebounds per game while being named to the second-team All-American squad. During his senior season, his heroics in a game against rival Louisville earned him a spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated.[4]

NBA career

In 1984, Bowie entered the NBA draft, and after the Houston Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick in the draft, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Bowie. North Carolina shooting guard Michael Jordan was picked third, by the Chicago Bulls, and would go on to be one of the most acclaimed players in basketball history, earning five NBA Most Valuable Player Awards and winning six NBA Championships.[5] Future Hall of Famers Charles Barkley (power forward) and John Stockton (point guard) were also available at this point during the 1984 draft. Portland's draft decision is regarded by ESPN as the worst in NBA history.[6] Sports Illustrated called Bowie the biggest draft bust in NBA history in a 2005 list, arguing that teams should not draft according to current need but to a player's potential.[7]

Four years earlier, the Blazers had acquired the Indiana Pacers' 1984 draft pick in return for aging center Tom Owens. Owens was out of the league by 1983.

During his rookie season, Bowie played in 76 games and averaged 10 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Team.[8] However, injuries limited him to only 63 games over the next three seasons, including only five during the 1986–87 NBA season and he missed the entire 1987–88 NBA season. On June 24, 1989, Bowie, who had averaged 10.5 points per game with the Trail Blazers, was traded, along with a draft pick, to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Buck Williams. Bowie's four seasons in New Jersey were his healthiest and most successful; he averaged 12.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and never missed more than 20 games in a season. After two injury-riddled years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bowie retired from professional basketball in 1995.[5]

Over his career, Bowie averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.78 blocks per game.[5] He hit 45.2% of his attempted field goals (2,127 made of 4,702 attempted), and 30.2% of his three-point shots (32 made of 106 attempted).[9]


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