In the 1984 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers had the opportunity to select Michael Jordan but instead took a chance on Sam Bowie. Reflecting on this years later, Jordan stated in a Playboy Magazine interview that going to Portland would not have been a good idea for him. He believed it would have been "dumb" because the Blazers already had Clyde Drexler, a talented guard.
At the time, the Blazers had Clyde Drexler, who they had drafted in 1983. Despite a mediocre rookie season, the team knew he was a valuable player. Additionally, Jim Paxson had been performing well, averaging 20 points per game for two consecutive seasons, so there was no need for another guard in the 1984 draft.
The Blazers' coach, Jack Ramsay, acknowledged their interest in Jordan but emphasized their greater need for a center. Ramsay understood the importance of having a dominant big man, as exemplified by their championship-winning team led by Bill Walton. With Walton gone, the plan was to build the team around Sam Bowie as the center, with Drexler and Paxson providing support.
Jordan believed that if he had joined the Blazers, he would have faced competition from Drexler for playing time. Additionally, the team had other players who were scoring at least 17 points per game, including Kiki Vandeweghe, who was already a superstar. In contrast, when Jordan joined the Chicago Bulls, he became the team's best player from the start, which played a crucial role in building his marketable image.
Jordan recognized that being in a different city with a different image would have significantly impacted his success both on and off the court. His presence in Chicago helped generate an estimated impact of $10 billion on the U.S. economy in 1998. He acknowledged this during the Playboy interview, stating that he wouldn't have had the same business and financial opportunities elsewhere.
Looking back, it is clear that the NBA and various businesses associated with basketball would have had a different trajectory if the Blazers had chosen Jordan in 1984. Not only would it have altered the championship outcomes for both the Bulls and the Blazers, but it would have also changed the financial landscape of the sport.