The 25 Greatest NBA Players of the '80s

25. Ralph Sampson

Accomplishments (1983-1984 - 1988-1989): 1984 Rookie of the Year, 4x All-Star, 1x All-NBA
Team(s): Rockets, Warriors, Kings
Stats (1983-1984 - 1988-1989): 16.5 PPG 9.2 RPG 2.4 APG 0.9 SPG 1.7 BPG
'80s Highlights

For a brief period, Ralph Sampson was an alien. While balling for the Virginia Cavaliers and his first three seasons in the L, he managed to change the game. He's the reason guys like Kevin Garnett exist and why having two capable, starting 7-footers is a recipe for success. Towering at 7'4", he came into the league as a center, but his tall, lanky frame and style of play was better suited for the power/point forward position. So after taking Sampson in 1983 with the first pick, the Rockets took Hakeem with the first pick in the 1984 Draft. They became immediate contenders and made it all the way to the Finals the next season in 1986—with the help of a buzzer beater by Sampson. Knee injuries plagued his career after his third season and he was never able to regain his form.

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