For every Michael Jordan in the NBA Draft, there’s a Sam Bowie. But what do the NBA’s biggest draft busts do after their career? No, they don’t crawl into dark corners to disappear from the world and into nothingness. Here’s a look at the Top 10 biggest draft busts – according to John Hollinger – and where they are now.
10. Corky Calhoun (Penn): No. 4 overall, 1972, Suns
This was a pretty awful draft, but Calhoun is probably the “jewel” of this bad class. He managed to stick around the league for eight seasons but averaged more than six points a game just once in his career. After his NBA career ended he took a job with the Mobil Oil Corporation (now Exxon Mobil) and has worked with them ever since. As of 2007 he resided in Washington D.C. At least it’s not BP.
9. Kent Benson (Indiana): No. 1 overall, 1977, Bucks
He had an unspectacular 10 seasons in the NBA but his time with the Bucks lasted just two and a half seasons. Not a lot of value for that No. 1 pick. Today Benson resides in Bloomington, IN, and is an independent representative of Lightyear Network Solutions and Weddell Communications. He has also served as a color commentator for Kruse International, the largest vintage-car auction company in the world. His daughter plays volleyball for Indiana.
8. James Ray (Jacksonville): No. 5 overall, 1980, Nuggets
Despite being what would’ve been a lottery pick (the lottery hadn’t been implemented yet), Ray started just seven games his entire career and averaged just 3.2 points a game over three seasons. He’d finish his professional career overseas. In 2001 he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis and in 2008 was given just three months to live without a lung transplant. Fortunately he received new lungs in mid-2008 and as of then he resides in Jacksonville.
7. Michael Olowokandi (Pacific): No. 1 overall, 1998, Clippers
Olowokandi couldn’t average more than 10 points over his 500 career NBA games. That’s right; the No. 1 overall pick played just 500 career games. Granted that’s 500 more than us, but the Clippers didn’t pay us a boatload of money. Olowokandi currently resides in San Ramon, CA, near San Francisco and Pacific, where he starred. His former girlfriend recently made news when she arrested on a reunion show of VH1’s “Basketball Wives.”
6. Dennis Hopson (Ohio State): No. 3 overall, 1987, Nets
Hopson’s numbers weren’t terrible in New Jersey and he actually led the team in scoring his third and final season there (15.8). But problems with the head coach led to him being traded to Chicago. Being a shooting guard in Chicago not named Michael Jordan wouldn’t be good for anyone’s career, and it pretty much ended Hopson’s. Today he’s an assistant coach at Bowling Green.
5. Bill Garnett (Wyoming): No. 4 overall, 1982, Mavericks
It’s hard to believe a player from Wyoming would be drafted so high and after Garnett’s career, we believe it will likely never happen again. Over four NBA seasons, Garnett scored just over 1,600 points. Not exactly a scoring threat. He was last in the news in 2004, where he worked for his father’s old water treatment company in Denver. He currently resides in Golden, CO.
4. Ken Durrett (La Salle): No. 4 overall, 1971, Royals
Durrett never started a game in his four-year NBA career and tallied more fouls than points in his rookie season with the Royals. After his career, he became a community activist and a basketball coach in his native Pittsburgh. Sadly, Durrett died of an apparent heart attack on Jan. 7, 2001.
3. Chris Washburn (NC State): No. 3 overall, 1986, Warriors
In a draft known more for its propensity for cocaine rather than its play on the court, Washburn wasn’t an exception. By 1989, he had been banned by the league for life after failing three drug tests. At one point he hit rock bottom, going into drug rehab 12 times and relapsing each time. Fortunately for his own health, Washburn finally turned his life around, has been clean 10 years and now resides in Dallas, working in the mortgage business.
2. Sam Bowie (Kentucky): No. 2 overall, 1984, Trail Blazers
Bowie could’ve benefited from a lucky horse shoe or some four-leaf clovers. Not only did he have the misfortune of being selected before Michael Jordan but he also suffered unfortunate injuries preventing him from at least trying to give the Trail Blazers a title. When he was healthy his rookie year, he nearly averaged a double-double (10 PPG, 8.6 RPG). Today he resides in Lexington, KY, and owns his own race horse “Before He Cheats.” Yes, that’s a Carrie Underwood song. No, he didn’t choose the name, although we wish he had.
1. LaRue Martin (Loyola Chicago) No. 1 overall, 1972, Trail Blazers
Martin was the original Trail Blazer big man failure. Unlike Bowie, Martin’s numbers were never that good even when he was healthy; he claims he never got the playing time to justify the pick. He lasted just four seasons in the NBA, averaging 5.3 points a game over his career. Today Martin resides in the Chicago area and works as a community services manager for UPS.