At 5 pm EST yesterday ESPNU aired an episode of SEC Storied title Going Big. The film has been shown several times over the last month and it tells the story of Sam Bowie and his injury plagued career.
Bowie was a star for the University of Kentucky basketball team in the early 1980's. He averaged 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds as a sophomore before breaking his leg toward the end of the 1980-81 season.
After sitting out two years to recuperate Bowie averaged 10.5 points and 9.2 rebounds as a senior and was taken with the second pick in the 1984 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, one spot ahead of Michael Jordan.
At the time of the draft there was some concern about whether Bowie was fully healed and whether he would be likely to re-injure his leg. But Portland had a team of physicians examine him and he told the doctors that he was fine.
In Going Big, Bowie admits that he lied.
“I can still remember them taking a little mallet, and when they would hit me on my left tibia, and I would tell them, ‘I don’t feel anything.' But deep down inside, it was hurting. If what I did was lying and what I did was wrong, at the end of the day, when you have loved ones that have some needs, I did what any of us would have done.”
In 1985 Bowie broke his left leg while playing for the Trail Blazers and then he broke his right leg after returning to action in 1986.
In 2005 ESPN named Portland's choice of Bowie the worst draft pick in the history of professional sports. The same year Sports Illustrated listed Bowie as the biggest bust in the history of the NBA.
If he had been honest with the Trail Blazers then they would have drafted Jordan instead. Think about how that would have changed NBA history.