The best word to describe the 1986 NBA Draft is tragic. It’s not the worst draft of all time, but there are too many drafts that don’t reach their full potential due to trauma or out-of-court issues – most notably substance abuse. Cocaine is still prevalent in the league and in this case, ended the career of one of the most talented players before it even started. Bodyguards John Lucas and Michael Ray Richardson were suspended or banned from playing last season.
The tournament is entering its explosive phase. The Boston Celtics had a dominant championship streak (67-15 in the regular season; 15-3 in the playoffs). Michael Jordan became a superstar after beating the Celtics by 63 points in the playoffs. Detlef Schrempf becomes the first German player in the NBA while Georgi Glouchkov is the first Eastern Bloc player to play in the NBA … developments that will begin to expand the league’s talent pool. Larry Bird has won his third consecutive MVP award.
This is a second draft that features a lottery system, and unlike the 1985 Draft, there isn’t a franchise player as solid as Patrick Ewing that everyone coveted. But that night at the Felt Forum in New York City will produce one of the strangest and, yes, tragic manuscripts in memory.