The Case for 1984

Quite simply, the 1984 NBA draft class was the best of the last 25 years, bar none. It contained the player widely considered to be the best of his generation, if not of all time, Michael Jordan - and he was not even the first overall pick! That distinction went to one of the best centers in the history of the game, Hakeem Olajuwon.

   Michael Jordan  
  Michael Jordan denied fellow 1984 draftee John Stockton twice in the NBA Finals. (Morry Gash -- AP)


Those two players won a combined eight championships (Jordan 6, Olajuwon 2) and were both named to the NBA's list of the 50 greatest players. Jordan took a traditionally inept Bulls team to a dynasty and Olajuwon led the Rockets to their only two titles. While often belittled, because he was selected before Jordan, even No. 2 pick Sam Bowie carved out a solid career, averaging 10.9 ppg and 7.5 rpg over 10 years.

At pick No. 5, Charles Barkley went to the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkely became one of the best power forwards in NBA history. He is one of only four players to ever compile 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists.

Demonstrating the great depth of the 1984 class are John Stockton and Tony Campbell. Stockton, taken at No. 16 by the Utah Jazz would go on to become one of the greatest point guards in NBA history and the all-time assist leader. Campbell, while not as accomplished as any of the above players, nonetheless played a key role on the Lakers' 1988 championship team, averaging 11 ppg. Spannin an often overlooked 11-year NBA career, Campbell averaged 11.6 ppg and even poured in 23.2 a game for the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1989-1990 season.

Besides the sheer talent and success of the class (12 total championships, with Otis Thorpe and Kevin Willis adding 3 to the players listed above), the players drafted in 1984 would have made a perfect roster.

I would strongly argue that John Stockton, Michael Jordan, Charles Barley, Kevin Willis and Hakeem Olajuwon would comprise the best starting five of any draft class in the past 25 years. When you throw in superb role players Otis Thorpe, Sam Perkins, Alvin Robertson, Michael Cage and the aforementioned Tony Campbell on the bench, I think it is the most well-rounded and cohesive unit of any possible in any draft.

By Jason Feller |  June 19, 2006; 6:54 PM ET
Next: The Case for 2003


Please email us to report offensive comments.

You forgot about "Thunder" Dan Marjerle one of the most accomplished long range shooters in NBA history (and leading scorer for the Olympic team in '84). He was one of the crucial pieces that allowed Phoenix to make it to the finals in '93 vs Chicago. How about Verne Fleming another of the '84 Olympics stand outs that had a solid NBA career

Posted by: EWatson | June 27, 2006 03:37 PM

Those who say '84 should let Jordan retire in peace. Outside of Mr. 23, The Dream and the Round Mound of Rebound what do you have - role players. The '03 draft is better.

The best is definitely '96. Without a doubt. Here is how you know. Take every first round pick, add up avg pts, rebounds and assists (divide that by the total number of years played by each first rounder. The best avg goes to '96.

Not enough evidence - whip out your Playstation and take put your Jordan-era squad vs. my Iverson-era squad and put your money on the table old man.

Posted by: hthomas | June 27, 2006 04:25 PM

Couldn't have said it better. Olajuwon, Jordan, and Barkley in the top 5. Game over.

Posted by: hoop-ity | June 28, 2006 01:09 AM

Re: Class of 1984.

Don't forget that Stockton is not only the career leader in assists, he is also the career leader in steals.

Posted by: J Kang | June 28, 2006 09:22 AM

Actually "Thunder" Dan was in the class of '88. Lets not make the class of 84 better than it acually was. After all it did have Mel "Dinner Bell" Turpin, Lancaster "The disaster" Gordon. And by the way, if not for Karl Malone, would we even know who John Stockton was? Funny he got out of the game before the Mailman, so we would never really find out (Hmmmmm). Outside of Jordan, Olijuwon and Barkley '84 seem a tad over-rated. '96 and '03 still too early to call. By the way I wouldn't describe Sam Bowie's career as "Solid" I think they expected far more than 10.9ppg. 17 or 18 would be more like solid. I think '84 is over-rated. Certainly not the best ever. If you judged by the number of potential Hall of Famers '84 has the big three and John "Thanks-Karl-Malone" Stockton.That class had 29 teams drafting in the first round. But I was on the internet looking at draft history and I came across something really amazing. The class of 1960,(Don't Laugh, I'm not that old, but we are talking about history here)which had only 8 teams drafting and less technology, produced Oscar Roberton, Jerry West and Lenny Wilkens. Now WHIP THAT ONE OUT ON YOUR PLAYSTATION! (Yes they're In the game)

Posted by: BallWiz | June 29, 2006 10:04 AM

Where did Pat Riely play his college ball. I saw a movie Called Glory Road based on a true story and one of the players for Kentucky was pat reily, and I was wondering if it was the same pat riely

Posted by: | August 3, 2006 11:01 AM

Best draft was 96. 1984 draft only has 4 players u can say off the top of your head and everyone else is role players. 1996 had Iverson, Camby, Shareef,Marbury, Ray Allen,Antoine Walker,Kobe, Peja, Nash, Jermaine O Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Thats 10 all stars excluding Camby but he will be an allstar in 2007. The 1996 draft will kill the 84 draft anyday of the week although you can see that the 2003 draft will be better as soon as these players develop

Posted by: john | August 4, 2006 10:58 PM

Jordan Olajuwon Barkley
look at the ridiculous stats these guys put up
jordan's ppg, barkley shooting 60%
hakeem's 15 rebs 4 blocks per game
just ridiculous

96: A bunch of starters not much else
Iverson and Nash just emphasize a particualrly weak NBA

Now don't get me wrong I want Kobe( and lebron and carmelo and wade) to be great
but they still have to show me something good

wade's taken some steps in the right direction

Posted by: Tony Plakas | August 28, 2006 01:21 AM

84 does have a good squad and yes the greatest player ever, although 96 had AI, consistent player allstar every year, kobe 3 time nba champ, steve nash MVP for the last couple years. Marcus Camby one of the great shot blockers of this era, Antoine Walker just won a title with Miami. Ray Allen the greatest quick release perimeter shooter along with Peja Stojakovic. Stephon baby, Need I say more. And they are still playing and gettin better.

Posted by: SPC Buniag Iraq | September 28, 2006 08:14 AM

1992 draft is the best. a well balanced team that would kill any draft team of any era. led by shaq and sprewell, they also boast a deep bench led by alonzo mourning and christian laettner.

gugliotta/laettner/pj brown
sprewell/horry/walt williams
jim jackson/christie
brent price/anthony peeler

Posted by: dreamshake | December 28, 2006 02:11 AM

Willis had a 18.3ppg/15.5rpg season does anybody understand how impressive that is??????? Not to mention he has the 19th most reblounds of all time.
Michael Cage was the league leading rebounder in 88.
Otis Thorpe was averaging 10rpg during a long tenure. Thats despite playing second fiddle to Olajuwon.
Now add Barkley & Olajuwon.
Look at the inside presence on the 96 & 03 team both of them would get monstered.

You have the all time leader in block shots (Olajuwon) assists (Stockton)
The 1st 2nd 7th & 8th all time in steals (Stockton, Jordan, Olajuwon & Alvin in that order)
The 3rd 7th 16th all time leaders in points (jordan, Olajuwon, Barkley)

Posted by: | January 2, 2007 12:07 AM


Posted by: | January 4, 2007 08:20 PM

Ok, well i gotta say that we're looking for the DEEPEST draft, and 96 has the freakin deepest of all three, just in the sheer number of amazing players. 96 fo sho.

Posted by: d haaawssh | February 23, 2007 04:07 AM

MJ, Heakem the dream, John stockton, and Charles Barkley 84 is the bestbecause without them the NBa wouldnt be what is now

Posted by: sean | April 2, 2007 04:37 PM

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