MANILA, Philippines – The year 1984 will forever be remembered as the year Michael Jordan was selected 3rd overall in the NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls.
Drafted that same year were Jordan’s fellow Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (No. 1 pick), Charles Barkley (No. 5), and John Stockton (No. 14), along with other big names such as Sam Perkins, Alvin Robertson, Kevin Willis, Otis Thorpe, Vern Fleming, Jerome Kersey, and Rick Carlisle.
Interestingly, the 1984 draft also holds a major significance for Philippine basketball.
Many Filipino fans may not be aware that there were 19 players picked in that year’s draft who eventually found their way to the Philippines to play as reinforcements in the PBA.
Four PBA imports were highly touted prospects who were drafted in the first round.
Picked 10th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers was Leon Wood. Wood was so good that he made the US Olympic team in 1984, beating out the likes of Barkley, Stockton, Terry Porter, Johnny Dawkins, and Chuck Person.
Wood won an Olympic gold under coach Bobby Knight, even leading in assists (7.9 a game) in a US squad headlined by Jordan, Perkins, Robertson, Chris Mullin, and Patrick Ewing.
After playing 6 NBA seasons for 6 different teams, Wood ended his playing career in 1994 as an import for Purefoods. He rejoined the NBA as a referee after he retired from active play.
Bernard Thompson was chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers as the 19th selection. After suiting up for 3 different teams in the NBA, he was recruited by Swift Mighty Meaty as a replacement import for former NBA star Lewis Lloyd in 1991.
The 21st pick was Kenny Fields, who played for Presto in 1988 but left without notice with still 4 games left in the Open Conference.
The last player chosen in the first round was Michael Young, a product of the University of Houston Cougars.
Young was twice the leading scorer of the Phi Slama Jama crew of Houston that was bannered by Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
In the PBA, Young was a two-time finalist for Manila Beer and Great Taste. He was named the Best Import of the 1986 Open Conference, besting Billy Ray Bates of eventual champion Ginebra and 4 other imports who were also selected in the 1984 NBA Draft – Eric Turner and Lewis Jackson of Great Taste, James Banks of Magnolia, and Fred Reynolds of Shell.
Turner and Reynolds were second-round picks along with 4 other imports – Cory Blackwell of Great Taste, Steve Burtt, who played 5 games for Shell in 1989 before going down with a hamstring injury, NBA veteran Steve Colter who suited up for Shell Rimula in 1992, and WIllie White.
In the third round, 3 players selected eventually had outstanding showings in the PBA.
A young man from Memphis named Bobby Parks was chosen 58th overall by the Atlanta Hawks but was left unsigned.
Parks first played in the Philippines in 1987 when he led San Miguel to the 3rd conference championship. He was also named Best Import, the first of 7 he would win in his PBA career, still the record for imports.
In 2013, the league officially named the Best Import award the Bobby Parks Best Import Award in honor of one of the greatest reinforcements to play in the PBA.
Joe Binion was also a third-round selection by the San Antonio Spurs. Binion led Great Taste to the 1985 Open Conference title over Norman Black and Magnolia, then made the NBA in 1985-1986 when he was signed up by Portland.
David Pope, picked 62nd overall, played two seasons in the NBA. In between those two seasons, he played 22 games for Tanduay in the 1985 Open Conference where he averaged 34.9 points.
Pope helped Tanduay reach the semifinals, but they ended only 4th in the tournament after losing in the battle for 3rd to the Northern Consolidated Cement National Team.
Two imports selected that year played twice in the PBA.
Fresh out of the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels program, fourth-round pick Jeff Collins powered Great Taste to the 1984 Invitational title against Crispa in what was the last conference of the Redmanizers in the pro league. Collins bagged the Best Import award.
Butch Hays was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the seventh round and was the roommate of fellow rookie Jordan before Hays was released by the team.
Hays was instrumental in the 3rd place finish of Beer Hausen against Gilbey’s Gin in the 1984 Invitational.
Collins and Hays came back for the same teams in the 1986 Reinforced Conference.
That year, Collins again made the finals but Great Taste fell short against Tanduay, 2-4.
Hays rejoined the Manila Beer ballclub as a replacement for an import, who like him, was a 1984 seventh-round draftee, George Turner.
McKinley SIngleton played for Hills Bros in the 1987 PBA/IBA World Challenge Cup, a four-team invitational tournament held between the All Filipino and the last conference. Singleton was a sixth-round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks. – Rappler.com
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