Thanks to the massive popularity of Netflix’s recently-debuted documentary series The Last Dance, NBA legend Michael Jordan has once again become a frequent topic of conversation among basketball fans. While he spent almost his entire career playing for the six-time league champion Chicago Bulls, a new report suggests that there was a possibility “His Airness” would have ended up with the Philadelphia 76ers or Dallas Mavericks, as both teams apparently tried to trade up for him in the 1984 NBA Draft.
In a recent appearance on David Kaplan’s ESPN 1000 radio show Kap & Co., former Bulls general manager Rod Thorn recalled that there were multiple teams that wanted to move up to the No. 3 spot in the 1984 draft, where the Bulls eventually selected Jordan, then a highly-regarded product of the University of North Carolina. At that point, centers Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie were respectively taken by the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers with the first two picks in the draft, underscoring how big men were far more coveted than backcourt players in those days.
“Philadelphia [76ers] had made a strong offer for Michael. Dallas [Mavericks] had made a strong offer for Michael,” Thorn explained, as quoted by NBC Sports Chicago.
“There were a couple of other teams that had inquired about the pick, their offers weren’t as good as those two but yeah, there were people who were certainly interested in Michael.”
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Thorn further related that there was no question that the Bulls would select Jordan with the third overall pick if available, as he had spoken to UNC head coach Dean Smith before the draft to inquire about his star shooting guard. Despite apparently showing reluctance to admit it in public, the late Tar Heels legend reportedly told Thorn that Jordan was the “most talented player” he had ever coached.
Although Thorn didn’t reveal what the Mavericks and Sixers supposedly offered for a chance to draft Jordan, Bleacher Report noted that these moves could have resulted in some interesting possibilities. Dallas selected Jordan’s UNC teammate Sam Perkins at No. 4, but if the team was able to trade up for Jordan, this would have allowed them to have one of the “best one-two scoring punches” in the NBA, as the Mavericks were then led by high-scoring forward Mark Aguirre.
As for the Sixers, who used their No. 5 pick on Charles Barkley, Bleacher Report explained that it would have been intriguing to see Jordan play alongside fellow future Basketball Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Moses Malone, especially since the would-be Bulls icon drew a lot of comparisons to Erving as a college player.