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On June 28, 2012, NBA fans around the world will be focused on New York City for the NBA draft. This year's draft also marks the 20th anniversary of when the event came to Portland's Memorial Coliseum. It was the first time in history that the event was held outside of New York City.
The draft was held in Portland to coincide with the Olympic qualifying competition, The Tournament of the Americas, which began three days later on June 27, 1992, and marked the debut of the Dream Team. What the 1992 NBA draft will always be remembered for is the first overall selection Shaquille O'Neal from LSU.
Not only was this draft day in Portland an iconic one in NBA history, but it was also a memorable one for myself and three friends who were in attendance as teenagers. My memories of that day have faded somewhat in the last 20 years, but I do recall a few moments:
By finishing the regular season with 57 wins and 25 losses, the Blazers had the 26th pick in the draft, which was second-to-last in the first round back then. The Blazers selected Dave Johnson, a 6'7" guard-forward out of Syracuse. The only notable name taken after Johnson in the draft was P.J. Brown, who was taken at #29 overall.
Over two seasons, Johnson appeared in 59 games for the Blazers, averaging 3.5 points per game. He was waived in November 1993, signed by the Bulls a week later, and was then waived in March of that season and never again played in the NBA.
A few future Blazers were also drafted that day:
20 years later, we can say that the significance of these players in Blazers' history is that they were packaged for players like Smith and Pippen who would play big roles on contending teams in the early 2000's, whose archenemy was the Los Angeles Lakers and the #1 overall pick in '92, Shaquille O'Neal.
This video shows Shaq being drafted. People familiar with the Coliseum
will notice the gray cement walls of the waiting room. At the end of
this clip, Shaq is interviewed by Craig Saeger, who is wearing a normal
We should have known back then that Shaq being draft in the Rose City would only mean terrible things to come down the road...
RIP Malik Sealy, killed by a drunk driver (who offended twice after that)
I was at that draft too. I can't remember the reactions of everyone, but did Zo get boo'd when he was taken 2nd? I can't remember. I think I may still have a program or something from that day. I was cheering for Shaq. I was actually an Orlando Magic fan b/c of him and Penny. It's always nice looking back. 2 sleeper picks in that draft were late 1st rounder sprewell and PJ Brown in the 2nd. Historically not many 2nd rounders make it in the NBA, so it'll be interesting in 20 years to see what became of this year's 40 and 41st picks...
I don't think Alonzo was booed. It seemed like basketball fans either loved those early 90's Duke teams to death or they absolutely despised them. One of my buddies I was with loved them, but I hated them. Today I think Coach K and Grant Hill are great. '92 was supposed to be a deep draft, but most of the lottery picks were journeymen. You never can know for sure.
Love it: 'I didn't realize who he was at the time, but I remember thinking, "Wow! Now people in the audience are being selected! Maybe I'm next!"'
yeah, well, Laettner was one of them guys with attitude who always seemed to drain clutch shots for duke, and rivalries are so huge in college basketball that you're right, people either love or hate duke. There aren't many people on the fence saying, they're okay or i kinda like 'em.
Oh Tracy Murray....I had such high hopes for him when we picked him up. I thought he was just going to be what today's Jason Richardson is, a three-point specialist with unlimited range.
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