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Portland and Bowie have company now

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; It made perfect sense to the Portland Trail Blazers, too. They had an established playmaker in Jim Paxson, and an emerging superstar in Clyde Drexler by his side. They had shooters; they had forwards who could score and rebound, and ...

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Old 05-01-2006, 12:10 AM   #1
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Portland and Bowie have company now

It made perfect sense to the Portland Trail Blazers, too.

They had an established playmaker in Jim Paxson, and an emerging superstar in Clyde Drexler by his side. They had shooters; they had forwards who could score and rebound, and they had a hole at center that a shooting guard from North Carolina couldn't fill.

So on June 19, 1984, Michael Jordan was told Portland would be drafting Sam Bowie instead of him.

Maybe Reggie Bush is enjoying the same private laugh now that Jordan enjoyed then. In fact, Bush is likely telling himself he wouldn't ever want to play for a team foolish enough to deny him a contract in favor of a defensive end whom your average sports fan couldn't pick out of a crowd at the mall.

Charley Casserly, general manager of the Houston Texans, wants you to believe Mario Williams is a better football player than Reggie Bush, who might just be the greatest college football player of all-time. Sorry Charley, but you should review the front-office careers of men named Harry Glickman, Stu Inman and Bucky Buckwalter. They're the executives who passed on Jordan 22 years back, which means they're your kindred spirits forever more.

At least the Blazers had their reasons. After the Houston Rockets earned the No. 1 pick of the 1984 draft by winning a coin toss with Portland, the Blazers figured the 7-foot-1 Bowie was the missing piece to a championship puzzle. If everyone knew Jordan was good, no one knew Jordan was Jordan.

Bowie had missed two seasons at Kentucky with a broken leg, but the Blazers had doctors all over him, doctors who cleared him to have a Hall-of-Fame NBA career. Jack Ramsay, a championship coach, thought Bowie was a better all-around player than Akeem Olajuwon, the center who would eventually add an "H" to his name and two NBA titles to Houston's legacy.

The Blazers made a basketball decision that made some sense at the time, and which stands as a colossal blunder in retrospect. Bowie's legs gave out again. Jordan's legs became his wings, and the Chicago Bulls won six titles on the magic he made in the air.

By the nature of their game, running backs can't quite dominate like shooting guards. But Bush is the closest thing to a Jordanesque prospect the NFL has ever seen. And let's face it: The Houston Texans didn't deserve him in the first place. They "earned" the No. 1 pick in the draft by going 2-14.

The 1984 Blazers? They were a playoff team, a 48-34 team that secured Indiana's high draft pick in a smart trade. Portland was on the verge of piecing together another championship run, and it needed a center the way Ramsay's championship team needed Bill Walton.

The 2006 Texans? They're a joke of an expansion franchise, no closer to the Super Bowl than they were on launch four years back. They have no defining star. No identity. No reason to believe they'll be filling those empty seats.

Bush would have changed everything. He would have given the Texans a face, a name, a place in America's sports consciousness. He also would've given David Carr a chance to breathe for the first time in his star-crossed career.

Instead, the Texans gave a $26.5 million guarantee to a pass rusher who turned up famous 15 minutes ago.

"The contract to sign Mario Williams had nothing to do with our ability or inability to sign Reggie Bush," Casserly admitted. "It was strictly a football decision based on the best player. … We focused solely on Mario Williams (on Thursday) and told him that he's our guy, and we were close enough on the contract to finish it.

"Again, this was a decision on taking the best player for our team. It had nothing to do with signability, because we were confident we could sign both players. That's No. 1."

That left Bush to be taken at No. 2 — by the New Orleans Saints. Yes, there was poetic justice in this development. After enduring a near-apocalyptic storm, and after weathering possibilities that the Saints would be marching out to greener pastures and drier land, the least the people of New Orleans deserved was this gift from the football gods.

The Saints were smart to recover Houston's fumble and to fend off the Jets' attempt to pull Bush from their clutches. Meanwhile, the Texans busied themselves trying to convince the world that their lousy defense needed Williams more than their lousy offense needed Bush.

Casserly swore the Pac 10's investigation into the Bush family's relationship with a marketing rep who leased the family his home had nothing to do with the decision to take Williams. In fact, Casserly's pick would be easier to understand if the GM indeed factored the Bush allegations into his decision.

"We think Mario's the best guy for our team," said Texans coach Gary Kubiak.

Twenty-two years ago, the Portland Trail Blazers said the same thing about Sam Bowie. At least their reasons made some sense.

Ian O'Connor is the author of the book, "The Jump: Sebastian Telfair and the High Stakes Business of High School Ball"


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Old 05-01-2006, 12:33 AM   #2
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There have been sevearl articles so far making this very same comparison.

Just as much elation that I have over getting Bush, I have as much anguish removed that we did not end up with Williams! He may end up good but he could end up with 3 sacks this year too. The guy was just too risky for a top two pick IMO. These two players will forever be linked. Maybe second time is a charm, we picked George Rogers passing over Lawrence Taylor. It is time to usher in a new era for this team. For many generations the Steelers were the worst team in the NFL, then it changed. The 49ers were never a powerhouse until the Walsh regime of the 80's. The Patriots had an occasional good season but generally not considered contenders until Belicheck manned the helm. New Orleans Saints, 40 years... PAST!
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