Michael Jordan was the best basketball player of all time, a star everyone knew was destined for greatness from college on, right?
It’s a nice myth if you want to take it easy on yourself and not try, but things didn’t unfold that way. On the contrary, even after he started in the NBA, knowledgeable people, including Jordan himself, doubted his ability. This Chicago Tribune article, “He Was No Bowie (thankfully)” collected some great headlines from sports reporters, scouts, and more.
If you aren’t great yet, neither was he well into his career and if he got great, so can you.
This line actually appeared in a Washington Post story after the 1984 NBA draft: “Many scouts felt (Leon) Wood was the best all-around guard in the draft.”
Leon Wood, from Cal State-Fullerton, went on to play with five NBA teams, distinguishing himself with none of them while averaging 6.4 points a game. There were scouts–many of them–who believed Wood had more potential than Michael Jordan, another guard prospect in that draft.
or how about these quotes from team management and reporters?
The headline on Bernie Lincicome’s column in the Tribune of June 20, 1984, read, “Apologetic Bulls `stuck’ with Jordan.”
“We wish he were 7 feet, but he isn’t,” Bulls General Manager Rod Thorn said, acknowledging the team’s need for a center. “There just wasn’t a center available. What can you do?”
Jordan was picked third in the draft. Future hall-of-famer center Hakeem Olajuwon went first, which made sense. A center named Sam Bowie went next, never to reach much greatness in the NBA, but people didn’t know that then, any more than you don’t know what you’re capable of.
“When you think about it,” wrote Harvey Araton in the New York Daily News, “why shouldn’t Portland take a shot at Kentucky center Sam Bowie over Jordan?”
The press figured he would be most valuable as a future trade for a center.
Before the draft, the Tribune asked: “Will he displace Quintin Dailey at shooting guard or move up to small forward? Either way, the Bulls will be in a better position to trade for the center they must have to make the playoffs.”
Finally, the Bulls’ GM said about the man who became one of the most overpowering offensive players
“He’s a very good offensive player, but not an overpowering offensive player.”
If people are selling you short or don’t see your potential, what are you capable of?
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