michaeljordan19841. Akeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
2. Sam Bowie, Portland Trail Blazers
3. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

The 1984 NBA Draft isn’t just the best of all time. It is the most significant.

It was the first administered by David Stern, who became the league’s commissioner on Feb. 1. The following season, Stern created the Draft Lottery, which was supposed to discourage “tanking.”

The 1983-84 season was the birth of tanking1 — the act of throwing games by resting good players and giving the others extended minutes. The Rockets tanked 14 of their last 17 games, including nine of their last 10. The Bulls lost 19 of their last 23, including 14 of their last 15.

The Clippers, who moved from San Diego to Los Angeles in May, became lottery regulars and one of the worst franchises in sports history. Over the next seven seasons, they drafted Danny Manning and four no-time All-Stars — Benoit Benjamin, Reggie Williams, Danny Ferry (who refused to play for them) and Bo Kimble.

The Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie with the second overall pick — the fourth act in their Shakespearian tragedy of drafting bad or injury-prone centers with one of the first picks. LaRue Martin (1972) played just four seasons. Bill Walton (1974) led the Trail Blazers to a championship, but he missed 119 games over four seasons. Mychal Thompson (1978) missed his second season with an injured leg. Portland selected Greg Oden (2007) over Kevin Durant. All No. 1 overall picks. At least Bowie was the second player drafted in 1984.

But the 84 draft is most famous for producing four of the greatest players of all time, four of the top 25 players of all time — Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Alvin Robertson was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1986. Kevin Willis and Otis Thorpe were All-Star forwards. Michael Cage led the league in rebounding.

The following is a list of the greatest drafts of all time, based on the top 10 players in each class, using win shares, All-Star appearances and All-NBA appearances.

1. 1984

Starting lineup | Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Kevin Willis

WS All-Star All-NBA
3. Michael Jordan 214 14 11
16. John Stockton 208 10 11
5. Charles Barkley 177 11 11
1. Hakeem Olajuwon 163 12 12
9. Otis Thorpe 106 1 0
4. Sam Perkins 105 0 0
11. Kevin Willis 82 1 1
14. Michael Cage 74 0 0
46. Jerome Kersey 70 0 0
7. Alvin Robertson 52 4 1
1,251 53 47

Other selections | Oscar Schmidt (131st), Carl Lewis (208th)

2. 1996

Starting lineup | Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, Peja Stojakovic, Marcus Camby

WS All-Star All-NBA
13. Kobe Bryant 173 18 15
5. Ray Allen 145 10 2
15. Steve Nash 130 8 7
1. Allen Iverson 99 11 7
14. Peja Stojakovic 83 3 1
2. Marcus Camby 82 0 0
4. Stephon Marbury 78 2 2
3. Shareef Abdur-Rahim 71 1 0
20. Zydrunas Ilgauskas 66 2 0
17. Jermaine O’Neal 66 6 3
993 64 37

Other All-Star players | Antoine Walker

3. 1985

Starting lineup | Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Joe Dumars, Terry Porter

WS All-Star All-NBA
13. Karl Malone 235 14 14
1. Patrick Ewing 126 11 7
24. Terry Porter 110 2 0
8. Detlef Schrempf 110 3 1
23. A.C. Green 100 1 0
7. Chris Mullin 93 5 4
9. Charles Oakley 90 1 0
18. Joe Dumars 86 6 3
45. Hot Rod Williams 71 0 0
35. Tyrone Corbin 57 0 0
1,078 45 29

Other All-Stars players | Michael Adams, Xavier McDaniel

Other selections | Manute Bol (31st), Spud Webb (87th)

4. 2003

Starting lineup | LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Kirk Hinrich

WS All-Star All-NBA
1. LeBron James 193 12 12
5. Dwyane Wade 114 12 8
4. Chris Bosh 106 11 1
3. Carmelo Anthony 92 9 6
18. David West 80 2 0
51. Kyle Korver 62 1 0
7. Kirk Hinrich 53 0 0
21. Boris Diaw 51 0 0
12. Nick Collison 44 0 0
42. Zaza Pachulia 42 0 0
837 50 27

Other All-Star players | Mo Williams, Josh Howard, Chris Kaman

5. 1987

Starting lineup | David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, Horace Grant, Kevin Johnson

WS All-Star All-NBA
1. David Robinson 179 10 10
11. Reggie Miller 174 5 3
5. Scottie Pippen 125 7 7
10. Horace Grant 118 1 0
7. Kevin Johnson 93 3 5
18. Mark Jackson 92 1 0
9. Derrick McKey 62 0 0
2. Armen Gilliam 58 0 0
12. Muggsy Bogues 54 0 0
6. Kenny Smith 47 0 0
1,002 28 25

Other All-Star players | Reggie Lewis

Other selections | Sarunas Marciulionis (127th)

6. 1998

Starting lineup | Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Mike Bibby

WS All-Star All-NBA
9. Dirk Nowitzki 199 13 12
10. Paul Pierce 150 10 4
5. Vince Carter 118 8 2
32. Rashard Lewis 91 2 0
4. Antawn Jamison 88 2 0
2. Mike Bibby 73 0 0
41. Cuttino Mobley 52 0 0
25. Al Harrington 43 0 0
15. Matt Harpring 42 0 0
17. Rasho Nesterovic 40 0 0
896 35 18

Other selections | Michael Olowokandi (first)

7. 1962

Starting lineup | John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas, Dave DeBusschere, Chet Walker, Terry Dischinger

WS All-Star All-NBA
7. John Havlicek 132 13 11
12. Chet Walker 117 7 0
Jerry Lucas 98 7 5
17. Don Nelson 75 0 0
Dave DeBusschere 61 8 1
3. Zelmo Beaty 58 2 0
8. Terry Dischinger 56 3 0
6. Leroy Ellis 46 0 0
11. Kevin Loughery 30 0 0
4. Len Chappell 19 1 0
692 41 17

8. 2001

Starting lineup | Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler, Joe Johnson

WS All-Star All-NBA
3. Pau Gasol 131 6 4
28. Tony Parker 106 6 4
2. Tyson Chandler 93 1 1
13. Richard Jefferson 81 0 0
10. Joe Johnson 78 7 1
19. Zach Randolph 76 2 1
6. Shane Battier 76 0 0
25. Gerald Wallace 60 1 0
5. Jason Richardson 59 0 0
37. Mehmet Okur 55 1 0
815 27 14

Other All-NBA players | Gilbert Arenas (3)

Other All-Star players | Gilbert Arenas (3)

Other selections | Kwame Brown (first)

9. 1997

Starting lineup | Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Chauncey Billups, Keith Van Horn, Stephen Jackson

WS All-Star All-NBA
1. Tim Duncan 206 15 15
3. Chauncey Billups 121 5 3
9. Tracy McGrady 97 7 7
4. Antonio Daniels 47 0 0
13. Derek Anderson 44 0 0
2. Keith Van Horn 42 0 0
5. Tony Battie 36 0 0
42. Stephen Jackson 36 0 0
7. Tim Thomas 35 0 0
16. Brevin Knight 33 0 0
697 27 25

10. 1970

Starting lineup | Bob Lanier, Dave Cowens, Tiny Archibald, Pete Maravich, Rudy Tomjanovich

WS All-Star All-NBA
1. Bob Lanier 117 8 0
4. Dave Cowens 86 8 3
18. Calvin Murphy 84 1 0
19. Tiny Archibald 83 6 5
122. Dan Issel 82 1 0
2. Rudy Tomjanovich 70 5 0
5. Sam Lacey 51 1 0
3. Pete Maravich 47 5 4
13. Jim McMillian 46 0 0
7. John Johnson 37 2 0
703 42 12

Other All-Star players | Charlie Scott (3), Geoff Petrie (2)

HONORABLE MENTION

1969 | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jo Jo White, Bob Dandridge

1960 | Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Lenny Wilkens

1992 | Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Latrell Sprewell

1979 | Magic Johnson, Sidney Moncrief

1959 | Wilt Chamberlain, Bailey Howell

1974 | George Gervin, Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas

1965 | Rick Barry, Billy Cunningham, Gail Goodrich, Bob Love

1982 | Dominique Wilkins, James Worthy, Terry Cummings

BUILDING THEIR LEGEND

2009 | Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan

2011 | Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Isaiah Thomas

2012 | Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, Andre Drummond

  1. The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons