On the surface, the 1986 Draft looks fairly typical with three Hall-of-Fame members (i.e. Dennis Rodman, Arvydas Sabonis, and Drazen Petrovic) and three additional All Stars (i.e. Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Jeff Hornacek); however, things are not always as they appear. Instead of being remembered for any of these players, that draft is associated most often with players on the opposite end of the spectrum. In particular, four of the top seven draft picks had their careers end prematurely because of problems with drugs. I have highlighted the sad stories of Len Bias (#2), William Bedford (#6), and Roy Tarpley (#7) in previous posts, but this one is reserved for Chris Washburn (#3), who is the NBA’s #1 Drug (err, Draft) Bust.
Established in 1967, the ABA helped change professional basketball for the better before “merging” with the NBA in 1976. To name only a few positive developments resulting from the ABA:
– Players got paid more due to the competition for their services;
– Fans were treated to a faster paced game and the introduction of the 3-point shot; and
– The sport got stronger as superstars became ambassadors for the game.
At the same time, fans had to put up with questionable styles (such as the red, white and blue basketball), and players had to endure schemes to convince them to join the newer league. As described in the following post, Jim Chones was such a player who joined the ABA under unsavory circumstances.
You shouldn’t need me to tell you how bad the New Jersey Nets were as an organization in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but let me indulge you anyway. As a case in point, the cover photo from 1989-90 Nets Media Guide/Yearbook was actually taken two seasons earlier. In particular, Roy Hinson (#21) hadn’t worn that uniform and Buck Williams (in the bottom right) hadn’t played for the Nets since the 1987-88 season. I remember similar mistakes in my high school yearbook as pictures of previous graduates somehow slipped by the watchful eyes of the editors; however, that was an extracurricular activity done by unpaid students and not a work assignment done by paid employees. Regardless, all was not lost for Nets’ fans during the 1989-90 season because they got to see two of the worst all-time draft picks (i.e. Sam Bowie and Dennis Hopson) play for a team that finished the season with a 17-65 record. I was fortunate enough see them play in a game that year; however, the evening was memorable for an entirely different reason.