Clyde the Glide. Love him. One of the all-time best scorers in NBA history. But he wasn’t Michael Jordan. No one was MJ. In 1984, the Portland TrailBlazers had the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. Jordan, a skinny sophomore from North Carolina, was available. (Houston took center Akeem – late Hakeem – Olajuwon at No. 1, a clear choice at the time.) But Portland had Glide starting a Two Guard, and Glide was an All-Star.
So they took a center. Sam Bowie, a talented but fragile 7-footer from Kentucky.
The hoops intelligencia long ago forgave the late former Blazer GM Stu Inman, now with the Nets, and his comrades for passing on Jordan. – though they don’t let him forget it.
Tonight, the Blazer, with only a 5% chance of winning the NBA Lottery, came away with the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, meaning they have the option of taking the 7-1 Greg Oden, the best big man to enter the NBA in years; or Kevin Durant, the gifted forward whom I describe as Kevin Garnett with a long-range game.
The last time the Blazers had the top overall much I was graduating from college – so you know what was a long time ago! It was 1978 to be frank, and the selection was Mychal Thompson, a smooth 6-10 center from Minnesota. That was the most mundane draft ever. Not a all-timer in the bunch – save for the No. 6 pick, a kid who was going to stay in college. A cigar-smoking redhead took a flyer on him anyway, and decided to wait for him to leave school the following season. The kid was Larry Bird.
This time, the Blazer will not LOSE no matter whom they select. And the intelligencia is saying Portland will once again choose a center – Oden – to anchor its young nucleus.
But Durant is special, truly special. (Us East coast cats were gypped because we’ll never be able to stay up late enough to see Oden or Durant play.) If Portland passes on him – which it no doubt will – he’ll torment them for years from just down the ‘pike in Seattle.
It ‘s not as easy a choice as it seems.