With the NBA draft coming up in about three weeks, we here at Pippen Ain’t Easy decided to take a break from studying college talent to look back. We are reminiscing on “NBA Draft Memories.” The first player to be covered, who else? Michael Jordan. Yes Pippen Peoples check your calendars and do the math. Can you believe it has been 30 years since the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan? How long ago was this? David Stern had a moustache! Remember that ugly suit? (Just kidding Mr. Jordan, Like Charles Barkley’s suit wasn’t worse than yours.) Look, we could shut down the internet with all of the accomplishments that Michael Jordan has over his career. That’s just as a ball player. He has silenced his critics (for now) and turned his Charlotte Hornets into a playoff team.
Pippen Ain’t Easy already knows the story of Michael Jordan. The high school varsity snub, the guy who got his spot on the team, (Leroy Smith…who should get rights to this story) and how he used the snub for motivation to work hard and become a better player.
Pippen Ain’t Easy knows about the climb to the championships. The tears that flowed when he won his first title that grew to a three peat. We know about the retirement to try to become a baseball player to honor his father after he was murdered. We remember the two words “I’m Back!” We even remember that 7-28 performance for 19 points when he came back in his first game against Indiana.
I remember the “Double Nickel” game when he passed to Bill Wennington for the dunk at the end against my Knicks. Boo.
Pippen Ain’t Easy remembers the retooling (for real, not this stuff management is feeding you now) of the squad and running off another three peat.
But seriously folks, who saw ALL OF THIS happening. Truthfully.
For the heck of it, Pippen Ain’t Easy is going back in time and scout Michael Jordan circa 1984. Pippen Ain’t Easy warning: Look everyone knows how great this man is. However, he wasn’t “Air Jordan” back in 1984. He wasn’t even wearing Nikes yet, he wore Converse. So the sensitive fans that get upset easily, we’ll give you time to exit now.
Well back in 1984, the Bulls stunk. They were in transition trading away Reggie Theus and Artis Gilmore who at the time were the cornerstones of the franchise. So they were looking for a playmaker that could put the ball in the basket to complement Orlando Woolridge.
Three year college career
Averages: 17 points, 5.0 rebounds on 53.4% shooting from the field.
I don’t think that people understand that in 1984, he was not the most heralded guy in the draft. Back then Akeem (Didn’t add the “H’ until later in career) Olajuwon was the consensus number one pick coming out of the University of Houston. The Houston Rockets scooped him up quick and teamed him up with Ralph Sampson and dubbed them the “Twin Towers”.
Then history happened. The Portland Trail Blazers drafted the Greg Oden of that era Sam Bowie. I know everyone lights up the Blazers every chance they get. But Pippen Peoples you need to realize something. At that time, Portland had Clyde Drexler. He teamed up with Olajuwon to form the Phi-Slamma-Jama fraternity. In college, Michael Jordan was in a structured offense in Chapel Hill. You guys have heard the joke.
“Who can hold Michael Jordan under 20 points?”
Clyde Drexler and his teammates were the Fab Five and the media actually liked them. Understand this is before social media and self promotion on twitter. These guys would go out and simply destroy teams. I remember Clyde Drexler with his afro jump over a Louisville player IN THE GAME and dunk over on him. In those days the Houston Cougars were the team college basketball was talking about. Michael Jordan was the best player, but Houston was must see TV at the time. In 1984 Drexler was considered as valuable as Jordan. At least that’s what Trail Blazers general manager Stu Inman thought.
What did Rod Thorn see in Michael Jordan at the time?
What Thorn saw was a player that knew how to play basketball. Dean Smith demanded players to play his system and execute the offense. Another thing he preached was playing help trapping defense. Reggie Theus when he was in a Bulls uniform thought good defense was if he outscored his opponent.
Maybe Rod Thorn who begged him to play for the Dream Team watched him destroy the competition in the Olympics in 1984 when he picked up the gold medal.
Maybe he saw a fresh start coming from a guy that can change the culture of a franchise that was in the middle of an overhaul.
Understand Pippen Peoples Michael Jordan did have weaknesses coming out of UNC as ALL rookies do. He lacked shooting range and he was not as disciplined as he would become partially because the college game and the NBA game was different. But he used his quickness and the knowledge learned at UNC to stay ahead of the curve.
1984 opinion: Uh in my expert opinion…sign him. He’ll go on to do great things.