Throwback Thursday: The 1984 NBA Draft


From left to right: Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Background: NBA Commissioner, David Stern posing for a photo with first overall pick Hakeem Olajuwon just moments after being draft by the Houston Rockets.

On June 19th, 1984…The 38th annual NBA draft was held in the famous Madison Square Garden in New York City where college basketball and international players waited anxiously through the immense cheering and booing from devoted fans as first-year NBA Commissioner David Stern called up the young soon-to-be basketball stars on stage.

With the Houston Rockets winning the coin flip – yes a coin flip – the 1984 NBA Draft was the last to be held before the creation of the Draft Lottery in 1985. The Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon with the first overall pick in the draft.


The junior center from the University of Houston was the second foreign-born player drafted first overall. The Nigerian 7 foot center went on to have a Hall of Fame career in the NBA. Olajuwon retired in 2003 after playing one year with the Toronto Raptors but his impact in the league was in Houston, where he won back-to-back NBA Championships in 94’ and 95’ and was also named Finals MVP for both.

After averaging 11 rebounds per game, Olajuwon retired with a career total of 13,747 rebounds and 26,946 points and remains the all-time leader in blocks, with 3,830. Olajuwon was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

With the second overall pick in the draft, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted center Sam Bowie from the University of Kentucky. The 7 foot 1 big man who was a star in his high school and college days never saw his pro career lift off. After having leg injuries in the following seasons in Portland – the man who was selected before Michael Jordan is considered the biggest draft bust in NBA history. Bowie played five seasons with the Trail Blazers before being traded to the New Jersey Nets, where he played for four years before finishing his career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1995 after two seasons.


With the third overall pick in the draft, the Chicago Bulls drafted shooting guard and College Player of the Year, Michael Jordan. The North Carolina Tar Heel made an immediate impact for Bulls, where he was named Rookie of the Year and was also selected to the All-NBA Second Team in his rookie season. Following his rookie year, Jordan went on to have a legendary NBA career that is still talked about today.

Following the selection of Michael Jordan in the draft, the Dallas Mavericks drafted his teammate at North Carolina, Sam Perkins with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Although Perkins never achieved the amount of success of his former college teammate, Perkins did go on to have a great NBA career.

After 17 years in the NBA, Perkins scored 15,324 points and grabbed 7,666 rebounds in his career. The power forward spent his career with four NBA teams; after playing six years in Dallas, Perkins moved on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers for three years, and five years years with the Seattle Supersonics before retiring in 2001 with the Indiana Pacers after his three year stint with the team.

To round up the top five picks in the 1984 draft, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted power forward Charles Barkley from the University of Auburn. Although Barkley never won a championship ring, he did go on to have a valuable career in the NBA. After eight years with the 76ers where he proved to be a dominant force in the paint but his team could never get past Jordan and the Bulls in the Eastern Conference. He was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he won NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1993 with the Suns after averaging 25 points per game and 12 rebounds.


The former 10 time NBA All-Star was later traded from the Suns after four years to the Houston Rockets. After joining the Rockets, it was believed that Barkley would capture his first NBA championship title with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. But it would never happen – Barkley would retire in the year 2000. Barkley became the fourth player in NBA history to achieve 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. With a career total of 23,757 points, 12,546 rebounds and 4,215 assists – Barkley was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

The 1984 NBA draft featured three NBA Hall of Fame players in the first five picks: Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley. But with the 16th pick in the draft – the Utah Jazz silenced Madison Square Garden by drafting an unknown point guard from Gonzaga, John Stockton.

Stockton, who played his entire career in Utah, was a 10 time NBA All-Star who led the league in assists for nine straight years and steals for two years. Although he was never able to lead the Jazz to a championship title, Stockton engraved his name in NBA history by becoming the all-time leader in assists and steals after 19 years in the league. The unknown college player who was drafted by the Jazz scored 19,711 points in his career; recorded 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals. In 2009, Stockton was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The 1984 draft has been regarded as one of the best draft classes in NBA history. By producing four hall of fame players, and seven NBA All-Stars – basketball fans and sports writers look at the year of 1984 when the league changed forever due to the greatness of Michael Jordan and his fellow draft-mates who dominated the NBA throughout the 90’s and raised the bar in each of their respective positions.


You can follow David Pradel on Twitter:@davepradel_

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