The 1984 NBA draft is one of the most controversial in NBA history. Teams were losing games very suspiciously during the regular season to enhance their draft position. And who wouldn't, when the draft featured four future members of the Top 50 NBA Players of All Time team-Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Michael Jordan. But this draft is most often remembered as the one where Michael Jordan slipped to third and was a reason the lottery system was introduced the next year. How could the experts have been so wrong and, even more astoundingly, how could the Portland Trailblazers, who held the second pick, pass on Jordan and choose the injury-prone Sam Bowie? Filip Bondy sets out to answer that question and many more. Talking to general managers, coaches, and players, Bondy provides the entire back story of the draft: trades that were never made; wrong-headed assessments of players like Charles Barkley and John Stockton, and how Bobby Knight, coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, played a major role in advising certain teams about key players.
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Filip Bondy is a sports columnist at the New York Daily News, where he has worked since 1993. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. It's not the worst mistake in sports history, but it's among the most famous-with the second pick in the 1984 NBA draft, the Portland Trailblazers selected Sam Bowie instead of several future stars, including Michael Jordan. In this tremendously readable book, Bondy tells the full story of that draft, which most experts consider the best ever. Bondy follows six draftees-Bowie, Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Sam Perkins, and John Stockton. With commentary from scouts, general managers, coaches, and the players themselves, Bondy draws a portrait of each player, from just before the draft to the present day. Bondy perfectly synthesizes exactly why each player landed where he did, examining prevailing draft philosophies, recent roster blunders and the possibility that teams lost on purpose. While not as revelatory as Michael Lewis' Moneyball (Bondy's post-mortem of Portland's mistake focuses on familiar themes, particularly the fetishism of height), this book is every bit as enjoyable as the baseball bestseller. Bondy delves deeper into the character of Bowie than anyone has before, revealing a likeable man with terrible luck, and gives the reader a sense of how profoundly Jordan, Barkley and Olajuwon reshaped the league. It may not be transcendent enough to breakthrough with non-basketball fans, but anybody with a cursory interest in the game is in for a treat.
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