The Jordan Killer

by Salvatore Pane

Sam [Bowie] flew to Chicago, had dinner at Phil Jackson’s house and the next day was invited to the Bulls’ practice facility, the Berto Center.

“I remember watching Michael Jordan practice for the first time in my life,” Bowie said. “I was trying to figure out why Michael was as great as he is, and they were doing line sprints. And I never caught Michael cheating a line. I remember them saying, ‘Do 50 situps.’ Michael never did 48, 49. He always did 50. And I sat up there and I was like, people think they know why Michael’s great, but to witness what I just witnessed at this stage of his career, success doesn’t happen by accident. He worked hard and he deserved everything he could get.

“It was somewhat comforting to know that it wasn’t just me [who ended up not being as good as Michael]. We’re dealing with a guy in Michael Jordan that’s a freak athlete. We’ll never see another one of them in our lifetime. So it had nothing to do with me. Whoever was gonna be the second pick was gonna get some criticism when you compare them to a guy like Michael Jordan.”

Bowie and Jordan ended up speaking that day in the locker room. Michael told Sam, “Look, big guy. We’re gonna win it with you or without you, but it’ll be a lot easier with you.” Bowie nodded, couldn’t believe how obsessed Jordan was. This was the Bulls team that was on its way to 72 wins and a title. But Bowie’s heart wasn’t in it.

That’s the last time he saw Jordan in person.

–Excellent article by Tom Friend on Sam Bowie, the man drafted ahead of Michael Jordan