Thursday, September 27, 2001
First MJ ... now Bowie?
By Kevin Jackson Page 2 editor
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Michael Jordan apparently isn't the only one with a "love for the game."
Page 2 has learned that former NBA center Sam Bowie, who played for three teams in his 10-year pro career, is considering making a comeback of his own. Bowie, 40, resigned Tuesday as a basketball analyst for the University of Kentucky Radio Network, and sources tell Page 2 that the former Wildcats star has been holding secret workouts with current and former NBA journeymen to see if he can get into game shape.
"He's about 99.9 percent of what he was when he retired, for whatever that's worth," one reliable NBA source said. "He's planning to make a formal announcement next week via a classified newspaper ad, either in the Lexington Herald or Louisville Courier-Journal."
Sam Bowie can still dunk the basketball, but he has lost much of his "handle."
Coincidentally, Bowie was the player taken one spot ahead of Jordan in 1984 NBA draft, going No. 2 to Portland before Chicago grabbed Jordan at No. 3 -- and sources say Jordan's attempted comeback is providing Bowie's inspiration.
"At one point, some folks out there obviously felt he was a better player than Michael," said a member of Bowie's small posse, who requested that his name not be used. "He'd like to think that some people out there still feel that way."
The 7-foot-1 Bowie averaged 10.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in his 10 seasons with the Blazers, Nets and Lakers. In a cruel twist of fate, his career was cut short by leg injuries -- he broke his leg twice during his years with the Blazers, and he never developed into the NBA big man that many scouts felt he would be.
But Bowie still managed to play in the NBA until 1995, and many believe his legs have benefitted from taking six seasons off.
"He can still dunk the ball -- as long as he doesn't have to dribble," said one of the NBA players who secretly worked out with Bowie. "And he's in much better shape than Michael when you consider that nobody broke his ribs in our pick-up games, and he never once cut his hand while trying to snip a cigar. He told us he never actually smoked a cigar during his playing career, but he was pretty sure he could snip one without injuring himself."
Apparently, the constant comparisons to Jordan have always haunted the ultra-sensitive Bowie, and Jordan's comeback announcement Tuesday was the final straw.
"He's sick of all the taunting -- 'Air Bowie' and all the other insults people are constantly hurling at him, especially in Portland," said the anonymous but well-connected posse member. "He's ready to go head-to-head with Michael and get his rep back."
Bowie, who has still not decided on an agent, was unavailable for comment. However, according to reliable league sources, several teams, including the New Jersey Nets, reportedly are interested in bringing in Bowie for a tryout.