Rod Thorne knew the Rockets were taking Hakeem at no.1 and was 99% sure the Blazers were taking Sam Bowie at no.2. His friend Dean Smith told him the kid has what it takes, but Thorne did his due diligence. He went to see another touted prospect, a Charles Barkley, playing for Auburn.
“Alabama threw a zone at Charles, and he had six points, fouled out, and played an awful game. He couldn’t make an outside shot. So I left there thinking, ‘How is this guy ever going to be a big-time player in pro ball? He’s just too small to do what he was doing in college in the NBA.”Rob Thorne, NBA Draft
The decision was made, Chicago was going to take Michael Jordan at no.3. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Many teams tried to trade up to get Jordan, and the Bulls ownership wanted success right away. They had the worst attendance of any pro sports team in Chicago, even worse than the indoor soccer team they shared the arena with. When rumors that Dallas is considering trading star forward Mark Aguirre for no.3 surfaced, Thorne and scout Mike Thibault made a plan.
“Rod and I jokingly made a pact the day before the draft that if anybody came in from the ownership group to try to convince us otherwise, we were gonna lock them out of the room until the pick was made. Or lock them in a closet if need be.”Mike Thibault, BR
As confident as they were about picking Jordan, Thorne wasn’t sure he’d be a great player. The draft report had concerns about his weight (195 lbs a 6’6”) and the fact Jordan didn’t have an outside shot. As athletic as he was, you knew he was going to straight line to the rim. You can be one-dimensional in college, but not in the pros. He was far from a sure thing.
Three and a half decades later, we can conclude things turned out quite well for the Bulls. But all this was to show that going to MJ’s first game, people were excited to see a few dunks, but they had no idea who they are about to see for the very first time. MJ didn’t even have a particularly good game – he made only five of his 16 shots from the field. Still, someone made a good decision that night.
This isn’t even the most expensive MJ ticket out there. To be exact, it was sold for $24,907.50. The title goes to a ticket for his NBA preseason debut, which sold for $34,800 by Heritage Auctions.
Look, if I were a millionaire, I’m sure I’d overpay for stuff. I’m a sucker for gadgets and will spend way too much on food and drinks. But still, 25k for a ticket stub? I gotta start collecting Luka and Zion memorabilia and put it in a vault.