Sam Bowie's career probed in ESPN documentary

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Sam Bowie insists that he wasn't a bust in the NBA.

The former Kentucky center says that bad legs kept him from having a more productive professional career. Still, Bowie says he wasn't that bad — despite the prevailing public opinion otherwise because the Portland Trail Blazers chose him ahead of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft.

Bowie averaged 10.9 points and 7.5 rebounds in his 10-year career.

The 7-footer's injuries, life and career are examined in a documentary, "Going Big," premiering Thursday at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. The 51-minute film chronicles his childhood in Lebanon, Pa., and the high expectations placed upon him before he broke his left leg as a sophomore at Kentucky.

It also probes issues about Bowie's health when Portland selected him No. 2 overall. Jordan went next to the Chicago Bulls and won six NBA titles; Bowie broke his right leg twice in the league.

Bowie is happy that the documentary points out how he recovered from injuries to was able to play in the NBA for a decade.

"I thought they did a wonderful job of almost defending me," Bowie said of co-producers Tom Friend and Jon Fish. "A lot of people know half of the Sam Bowie-Michael Jordan story, and I think they did a good job of exposing the story."

Bowie, 51, initially resisted being profiled, fearing that the comparisons to Jordan would continue. But he relented and opened up on that issue — with takes from Charles Barkley and former Blazers teammates Clyde Drexler and Kiki Vandeweghe — and many others.

Bowie ended up discovering things he didn't know about his family. Wildcats fans might also learn a few things about him as well, especially the fact the injuries are his only regrets.

"It puts things in their proper context," Friend said.

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