The 1984 NBA draft class was headlined by four players that wound up being putting together Hall of Fame careers. At the top of the list was Michael Jordan, who fell to the Chicago Bulls at the third overall pick. It was a move that forever changed the Bulls’ history as he led the team to tremendous success over his 13-year tenure. However, it appears that his career could have taken a completely different pathway on draft night as fellow Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon unveiled that the Houston Rockets could have traded for Jordan.
Michael Jordan’s career path
Following three collegiate seasons at North Carolina, Jordan made the jump to the NBA in 1984 that landed him becoming the third overall selection.
The first several years were a struggle to get over the hump in the playoffs. Jordan continued to take his game to great heights while the pieces fell into place around him and helped him win six NBA titles. He was a game-changing talent that many hold as being the clear-cut greatest player in league history.
Beyond his success on the court, Jordan has become a global sports icon that has impacted many professional athletes that have followed his playing days. That entire career path could have taken a very different route had a trade gone through on draft night in 1984
Hakeem Olajuwon could have played with Michael Jordan
In the years since the 1984 draft, there has been much criticism pointed toward the Portland Trail Blazers for passing on Jordan for Sam Bowie.
At the first overall pick, the Rockets took Olajuwon in what was viewed as a no-brainer selection. However, things could have become more intriguing as the Hall of Famer center voiced in his autobiography, Living the Dream, that the team nearly sent Clyde Drexler and the No. 2 overall pick in that draft where they could take the North Carolina product. (H/T Nico Martinez of Fadeaway world)
In his autobiography, Living the Dream, Olajuwon mentions an intriguing draft trade offered to the Rockets that would have sent Clyde Drexler and the number two pick in the 1984 NBA draft from Portland in exchange for Ralph Sampson. Had the Rockets made the deal, Olajuwon states the Rockets could have selected Michael Jordan with the number two pick to play alongside Olajuwon and Drexler, who had established chemistry playing together during their Phi Slama Jama days in college. Sportswriter Sam Smith speculates that such a trade “would have changed league history and maybe the entire Michael Jordan legend”. From 1991 to 1998, every NBA championship team included either Jordan or Olajuwon; furthermore, at least one of Drexler, Jordan, and Olajuwon was involved in every NBA Finals from 1990 to 1998.
That could have shaken the entire league up with the pairing of Olajuwon alongside Jordan and Drexler. They each proved to be a Hall of Fame talent that would have taken the Rockets to tremendous heights.
There is no telling how dominant they would have been during that era to have three franchise-changing players.
Michael Jordan’s legacy would have changed
Instead of helping becoming the guiding force to bring the Bulls into prominence in the NBA, he would have forced a super team that could have competed with the likes of the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Detroit Pistons in the 1980s.
There’s no question that Jordan had the talent to translate to stardom in the league, but his perception would have been much different. His impact on the game could have changed his legacy would have always been linked to Olajuwon and Drexler.
It’s one of those “what-if” scenarios that boggles your mind toward what could have happened in Houston had that deal went done.