100 days of hoops, hardwood

100 Days Of Hoops: Day 84

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Michael Jordan (left) making sure the ball isn’t deflated.  Charles Barkley (center) shakes hands with A White Guy and Hakeem Olajuwon (right) checks out a Lunar eclipse. (Photo Credit: Rolling Stone)

The 1984 NBA Draft Class ushered in a new era of basketball for the NBA. The class of 84 was highlight by the big four; Akeem Olajuwon (1), Michael Jordan (3), Charles Barkley (5), and John Stockton (16). There was not a single NBA Finals matchup from 1991 through 1998 that did not feature at least one of these four dudes. Whether it be in the stats or in the ships, someone from the class of ’84 seemed to always be at the top for the better part of the next decade and a half.

His Airness soared onto the scene to win the scoring title his rookie year, proceeding to do so each of the following seasons.

1984-85 NBA 2313 (1st)
1986-87 NBA 3041 (1st)
1987-88 NBA 2868 (1st)
1988-89 NBA 2633 (1st)
1989-90 NBA 2753 (1st)
1990-91 NBA 2580 (1st)
1991-92 NBA 2404 (1st)
1992-93 NBA 2541 (1st)
1995-96 NBA 2491 (1st)
1996-97 NBA 2431 (1st)
1997-98 NBA 2357 (1st)
Career NBA 32292 (4th)
Career 32292 (4th)

basketballreference.com

While Jordan was on his way to averaging the most points per game in NBA history, Johnny Stockton was dropping dimes. Stockton led the league in assists for nine straight seasons on his way to finishing with the most in NBA History.

Assists
1987-88 NBA 1128 (1st)
1988-89 NBA 1118 (1st)
1989-90 NBA 1134 (1st)
1990-91 NBA 1164 (1st)
1991-92 NBA 1126 (1st)
1992-93 NBA 987 (1st)
1993-94 NBA 1031 (1st)
1994-95 NBA 1011 (1st)
1995-96 NBA 916 (1st)
Career NBA 15806 (1st)
Career 15806 (1st)

17 Seasons in Top 10

 

In the post, Hakeem (as his name would later be spelled) was the Dream indeed for Houston but a nightmare for opponents inside, leading the league in blocks twice on the year while accounting for the most ever over a career.

Blocks
1989-90 NBA 376 (1st)
1992-93 NBA 342 (1st)
Career NBA 3830 (1st)
Career 3830 (1st)

14 Seasons in Top 10
basketballreference.com

Only half of these four players won rings. The other two were stopped by Jordan in the Finals (Barkley in 1993, Stockton in 97 & 98). The two years between Jordan’s three-peat of 91 through 93 and 96 through 98 were owned by Olajuwon and his Houston Rockets.

And the player often playing inside and out of the paint was the fifth overall pick, Charles Barkley.  The Round Mound of Rebound led the association in rebounding in 1987 and won the MVP in 1993.  Despite him being 6’6 (it helped that he was 252 pounds), Barkley gave shorter, stockier kids more confidence to always position yourself around the basket to grab boards.

“I always laugh when people ask about rebounding techniques.  I’ve got a technique. It’s called get the damn ball,” Barkley once said.

And it wasn’t just about rebounding as Barkley found himself in the top five of field goal percentage seven out of his sixteen seasons in the league.

One player who never had a chance to play in the NBA despite being drafted and one of the world’s greatest talents is Oscar Schmidt.  Schmidt (drafted 131st overall pick by the Nets) is constantly referred to as Mao Santa (Holy Hand) in Brazil.  Schmidt had opportunities to play in the NBA but declined them all so he can continue playing for the Brazilian National Team for world matches.  It makes sense considering NBA players were not allowed to play in the Olympics until 1989 and American players not allowed until 1992.  Aside from playing for his home country, Schmidt also played for clubs in Italy and Spain. His professional basketball career goes from 1974-2003 and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.

The 1984 draft features seven all-stars, five Hall of Famers, a plethora of memories and classic rivalries.  At the time, it was the most stacked draft class of all-time and the argument is often made as 1984 being the Greatest Draft Class.  The impact and inspiration each star player had on and off the court continues to this day.  No matter the position they play on the court, many players work with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason for post moves. Some are drafted by Michael Jordan’s team and others join Charles Barkley in the TNT studio.  The 1984 Draft holds up pretty well to this day and rivals the draft classes of 1996 and 2003 for title of Greatest Draft Class in NBA history.

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