Looking back on the 1986 NBA Draft

The best word to describe the 1986 NBA Draft is tragic. It wasn’t the worst draft of all time, but there were too many drafts that didn’t reach their full potential due to injuries or problems off the court – mostly substance abuse. Cocaine was still circulating in the league, in which case it ended the career of one of the most talented players before it began. Guards John Lucas and Michael Ray Richardson were removed or banned last season.

The league was entering its boom. The Boston Celtics came out of a dominant championship streak (67-15 in the regular season; 15-3 in the playoffs). Michael Jordan was becoming a superstar after throwing 63 points at the Celtics in a playoff game. Detlef Schrempf became the first German player in the NBA, while Georgi Glushkov was the first player from the Eastern Bloc to play in the NBA … a development that will begin to expand the league’s talent. Larry Bird won his third consecutive MVP award.

It was the second lottery draft, and unlike the 1985 draft, there was no sure franchise-changing player like Patrick Ewing that everyone craved. But tonight at the Felt Forum in New York he would produce one of the strangest and, yes, tragic drafts in memory.

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