The Portland Trail Blazers are “cursed” when it comes to draft picks. They actually had numerous possibilities when they could choose players like Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan, but the fortune was not on their side. Sam Bowie is also a player which failed to live up to expectations in the Trail Blazers.
Was Sam Bowie good? If you consider the numbers and the statistics Sam Bowie was an average player. However, the injuries took their toll and he was prone to them. He had problems with legs which eventually prevailed and he could not realize his potential fully.
Sam Bowie played for 10 years in the NBA. He managed to score 5,000 points. In this article, we will have a further look at his career and how it unfolded.
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Why the Blazers chose Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan?
This is a question that cannot be answered fully. The NBA draft is something that cannot always guarantee the best results. When the Blazers were choosing Sam Bowie, he was excellent in the college, averaging 28 points per game and deemed as the future of the league. He was also chosen to take part in the 1980 Olympics, but the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan resulted in the boycott of the games in Moscow. Had the Blazers had another chance to select a different player they would have definitely gone for Michael Jordan, but this is an alternative history that is impossible to occur.
The Blazers already had Clyde Drexler picked in the previous draft and they did not have another first pick. In 1984 the first pick was legendary Hakeem Olajuwon, then followed Bowie and the third pick was the GOAT – Michael Jordan.
Then the Blazers chose Sam Bowie he was thought of as a player who would lead the team to success. He was a decent big man with great qualities and characteristics and in his rookie season, Bowie took part in 76 games averaging 10 points and 8.6 rebounds, which was pretty decent. He earned a place in the NBA All-Rookie Team.
The second season was actually the time, when the trouble started. In a game against the Milwaukee Bucks Bowie broke his left tibia and was carried off the court in a stretcher. During that season he only took part in 38 matches, averaging 11.8 points and 8.6 rebounds.
In the next season he returned but another huge blow occurred – in the fifth game Sam Bowie broke his tibia again and he compared the feeling to have the leg chopped by an axe. Clyde Drexler one of the leaders of the Blazers, immediately realized that things did not look well, considering how grave the injury was. Bowie was forced to undergo an injury and screws were placed to hold the bones together, but this was not enough.
Bowie returned once again in 1987 to play for the Blazers and in a pre-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he again started feeling the pain in his leg. He did not want to use a stretcher and walked off the court. Later he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture of the tibia. Overall in 328 possible games in a regular season for the Blazers, Bowie only played 63 games in the last 4 seasons. Perhaps, if he had returned later, injuries would not have troubled him to such an extent.
After departing from the Portland Trail Blazers, Sam Bowie moved to the New Jersey Nets and this was actually his best period, where the player was averaging 12.8 points and 8.2 rebounds. In the first season, he even had a double-double (14.7 points and 10.1 rebounds). At the same time during his stint with the New Jersey Nets, he never missed more than 20 games in a regular season, but it was already noticeable that injuries had a devastating blow on his career.
Bowie joined the Lakers in 1993 after a relatively decent season with the Nets, but after moving to the Los Angeles side, injuries once again “reminded” the player of old, bad times and Bowie only played 92 games in 2 seasons. He was a starter only in 17 matches. Jerry West wanted him to stay in the team but after the end of the 1994-1995 season, he announced retirement and pursued harness racing.
So how can we assess Sam Bowie’s career? Of course, it was nowhere close to the one that a lot of experts anticipated but as it happens in numerous sports disciplines injuries are the main enemies of players – it is impossible to deal with them. We cannot say how the thing would have happened, had it not been the fracture of his tibia, but for sure, Bowie’s career would take a different path.
The main problem perhaps was that he returned too early from the injury. We can remember an example of Joel Embiid who also missed the starting seasons because of the injury, but returned stronger and right now is one of the best players in the league. Bowie could have waited longer, but instead went for playing which eventually affected his career and he never managed to get back on the trail.
Bowie’s career can also be compared to Greg Oden’s (playing for the Blazers). Oden was considered a huge prospect in the NBA, but because of the injuries, the center was forced to retire earlier.
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