Terry Cummings might be in my Top 10 Most Underrated Players ever. He won Rookie of the Year after being selected with the No. 2 pick in the 1982 Draft (after James Worthy and before Dominique Wilkins – two NBA legends), was good for 20 & 10 on any given night for nearly a decade and almost lasted another decade in the league as a solid vet.
With that said, I would have been pretty upset if I traded a pick that would turn out to be the greatest ever for a player on the most underrated ever list. That’s what almost happened in 1984, when the Bulls almost traded Jordan to a list of teams, including the Clippers for Terry Cummings.
Here’s a recap of the almost trades that the Bulls almost made days before the draft.
The 84 draft would become infamous for a historic “blunder” but that “blunder” is arguably the biggest misconception in sports. The big questions are always “How did two teams pass up on Jordan?” and “Why was Sam Bowie picked before him?” Truth is, it made sense for Houston and Portland to pass on him and the Bulls only drafted him because they couldn’t get a big man.
The Rockets had the first pick and they had no second doubts about drafting Akeem before the H was added. The Blazers had the second pick and unlike most bad teams that needed a big man to win games, they were a winning team that needed a big man to win a championship and Sam Bowie was clearly the most talented big man available; He was the American version of Arvydas Sabonis, but the red flag on him was his broken leg and if could hold up in the NBA. The Blazers did run tests on Bowie and his legs and in a 2012 documentary called Going Big, Sam Bowie admitted to lying to the Blazers about the pain in his knee. I’m sure if they would have known that Bowie’s tibia was still hurting him, they would have reconsidered. Also consider the Blazers had Clyde Drexler, who was clearly a star in the making, so it didn’t make much sense to draft a player like Jordan that was arguably no better than the existing player playing the same position on a team. This is why the Blazers selected Sam Bowie.
The 3rd pick belonged to the Bulls and this is where the biggest “blunder” in draft history was almost made. The Bulls only selected Jordan because the top two big men were gone and they were unable to trade the pick that would be Jordan for centers Jack Sikma or Tree Rollins. Jack Sikma! Who (If you don’t know who he is then watch this hilarious Inside The NBA prank video of Shaq finding out Sikma was a “better center” than him)? There was even a three-way trade involving the Bulls’ pick going to the LA Clippers for Terry Cummings, which fell through a week before the draft. Cummings! Try explaining those trades to historians as Michael Jordan becomes the best player ever.
Now there was also a very interesting trade that was rumored around that time which is my favorite all-time “What If?” trade. According to Hakeem in his biography, the Blazers offered the Rockets the No. 2 pick and Drexler for Ralph Sampson. The Rockets declined and the birth of the “Twin Towers” happened. But, what if the Rockets would have accepted the trade and for some reason taken Jordan with that pick? Hakeem, Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan on the same team! I’m not sure Air and Glide would have been able to co-exist back then but I’m sure it would have been pretty exciting to watch them try.