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NBA Commissioner David Stern, left, shakes Charles Barkley's hand, June 19, 1984 in New York City after the former Auburn University forward was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley was picked fifth in the NBA draft. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler)
Closeup: The stars of the 1984 NBA Draft (video)
First Published Jun 21 2014 04:44 pm • Last Updated Jun 21 2014 11:19 pm

Taking a closer look at the players chosen in the 1984 NBA Draft:

Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Center, First Overall to the Houston Rockets

Accomplishments: Two NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, one NBA MVP award, 12 NBA All-Star selections, all-time NBA blocks leader, Houston Rockets all-time leading scorer

Signature moment: 1995 Western Conference Finals performance against David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs

Career Lowlight: Final season with the Toronto Raptors in 2001 when he averaged only 7.1 points per game.

Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon did his nickname proud throughout his NBA career, dominating opponents with an unrivaled smoothness in the post. He could block and own the paint defensively on one end of the floor and on the other, sink a silky mid-range jumpshot or take it to the hoop with ferocity. Olajuwon was also at his best when it mattered most, stepping up his game in the Western Conference and NBA Finals. In the Rockets’ back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, Olajuwon averaged a combined 31 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game in the Western Conference Finals and 30 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game in the Finals. Olajuwon went toe-to-toe with the best big men the NBA had to offer in the ‘90s and consistently came out on top.

Michael Jordan, North Carolina Guard, Third Overall to the Chicago Bulls

Accomplishments: Six NBA Championships, six NBA Finals MVP awards, five NBA MVP awards, 14 NBA All-Star selections, 10 time NBA scoring champion

Signature moment: The "Flu Game," The "Push Off"

Career Lowlights: Retirement in 1993 and attempt at a baseball career, return from second retirement to play for the Washington Wizards in 2001

The man needs no introduction and is, bar none, the greatest to have ever played the game. Jordan owned an entire decade of basketball in the 1990s, when he won all six of his championships with the Bulls and dominated everyone in front of him with an insatiable drive and hunger for greatness. Jordan was and is a global icon, winning a gold medal with the 1992 U.S. Olympic "Dream Team" and building his Nike signature shoe into a brand of its own. Jordan’s retirement in 1993 to play baseball in the Chicago White Sox farm system was puzzling and probably cost the Bulls and Jordan one, if not a few more titles. He now owns the Charlotte Hornets and will forever be the standard against which all great NBA players are measured.

Charles Barkley, Auburn Forward, Fifth Overall to the Philadelphia 76ers

Accomplishments: NBA MVP award, 10 NBA All-Star selections, NBA rebounds leader in 1968-1987 season

Signature moment: Triple-double (32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) against the Chicago Bulls in the fourth game of the 1993 NBA Finals

Career Lowlight: Spitting incident in 1991 against the New Jersey Nets

Outside of Karl Malone, Barkley was the most dominant power forward in the ‘90s. "The Round Mound of Rebound" could do everything from scoring to defending to rebounding during a long and successful career with the 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Rockets. After his rookie season, Barkley never averaged lower than 10 rebounds per game and scored at least 20 points per game for 11 straight seasons. In his lone Finals appearance against Jordan and the Bulls in 1993, Barkley carried the Suns with an astounding 27 points and 13 rebounds per game. In his MVP season in 1992-1993, Barkley averaged 25.6 points, 12 rebounds and five assists per game and was a member of the gold medal winning 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic teams. Barkley never won a championship, but he was always colorful and a fantastic player for more than a decade.

John Stockton, Gonzaga Point Guard, 16th Overall to the Utah Jazz

Accomplishments: NBA all-time steals and assists leader, 10 NBA All-Star selections

Signature moment: Appearances in two consecutive NBA Finals

Career Lowlight: Three-point miss in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals

Last but not least, Stockton rounds out this amazing draft class. Stockton, a Jazz legend, is arguably the best point guard in NBA history outside of Magic Johnson. He was a leader, a floor general and a facilitator, always putting his teammates in a position to succeed and score. He worked hard defensively and was durable, playing in at least 78 games per season in all but two years of his career. Stockton formed the best pick-and-roll partnership in the history of the league with Karl Malone, the duo combining for 2,938 games and 56,085 points over their careers. He won two Olympic gold medals with the U.S. Men’s Basketball team and appeared in two NBA Finals series, running into Jordan and the Bulls. Stockton was selfless and a fierce competitor, defining success at the point guard position in the ‘90s and long afterward.

bsmith@sltrib.com

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Twitter: @BrennanJSmith




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