By Jeffery Armstrong
With the NBA Draft 2003 coming on TV today, I can't help but have fond memories. I remember when I used to love the NBA and would anxiously await the NBA draft to see which players would be picked to play pro basketball on the best teams in the world.
What was funny about the NBA draft would be the ridiculous suits many players wore to the ceremony. Who can forget Karl Malone's knit tie he wore in 1985 that hung to his chest and stopped? Or how about Charles Barkley's tight-fitting, maroon nightmare of a suit he wore to the draft in 1984? Or what about Jalen Rose's ugly red pinstripe suit he wore when he was drafted in 1994?
Back in the day, I was an Atlanta Hawks fan and I hoped the Hawks would surround Dominique Wilkins with enough talent to make the NBA Finals and win a championship. It didn't happen that way as Hawks' management managed to destroy the team by making questionable, if not terrible, draft picks, making bad deals and worst of all, trading Dominique, my all-time favorite NBA player.
Looking at the Hawks' draft picks from the last 20 years could be summed up in the film "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
The Good: From 1983 to 1986, the Hawks did very well in the NBA draft. Very solid players like Glenn "Doc" Rivers and Randy Wittman were drafted in 1983, followed by one of my favorite players Kevin Willis in 1984, Jon Koncak in 1985 and Billy Thompson in 1986 (who inexplicably was traded to the Lakers for some guy named Ken Barlow. Thompson won two titles with the Lakers).
The Bad: The Hawks didn't do well in the draft from 1987-1993 and they made several deals that went sour. From 1987 (when the draft was seven rounds long) to 1991, the Hawks drafted a total of 18 players and only one is in the NBA right now Stacey Augmon (1st round 1991). They picked such immortals as Dallas Comegys (1987), Anthony Taylor (1988), Roy Marble (1989) and Trevor Wilson (1990).
The Hawks' first-round pick in 1990 was Rumeal Robinson of Michigan. I saw him play when the Hawks played the Houston Rockets in 1993. He was okay, but I knew he wasn't going to become an NBA superstar. Now check this list of current NBA players the Hawks could've picked to go alongside ?Nique in the 1990 draft: Antonio Davis of the Toronto Raptors, Elden Campbell of the New Orleans Hornets, Tyrone Hill of the Sixers and three-time NBA champ Toni Kukoc of the Milwaukee Bucks. All those guys were available when the Hawks picked Robinson at No.10 and I believe all those guys have been to the NBA Finals, with the exception of Campbell.
The Ugly: The 1994, 1996 and 1997 drafts were atrocious. The Hawks drafted, in order, these three busts: Gaylon Nickerson (1994), Priest Lauderdale (1996) and Ed Gray (1997). Now I hate to call anyone who's played in the NBA a bust since they can all outplay me right now, but man, those three were terrible. Instead of Lauderdale and Gray, the Hawks had a chance to pick two-time NBA champ Malik Rose of the Spurs in 1996 and current NBA sixth man of the year Bobby Jackson of the Sacramento Kings in 1997. It's too bad the Hawks didn't have hindsight.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.