My childhood should've been lit.

It should've been filled with annual ticker tape championship parades down Broad Street, memories of basketball domination from the greatest duo in NBA history, and countless word-of-mouth stories from friends and family of run-ins with the greatest roundball player to ever grace planet earth.

That's how it should've been. It wasn't. Michael Jordan never played for the Philadelphia 76ers, he never partnered with Charles Barkley to form an NBA tandem for the ages, and nan one of my people have any exciting "then MJ bought out the bar" tales of revelry and debauchery. Why? Because of one man—Rod Thorn.

From NBA TV's documentary, The 84 Draft:

"Rod Thorn the General Manager he got an offer [for the third pick] from the Philadelphia 76ers for Julius Erving." —Filip Bondy, author, "Tip Off" (1984 Draft) 

"We were offered several enticing deals, but in our mind—other than [Hakeem] Olajuwon—Jordan was our guy." —Rod Thorn, Chicago Bulls GM 1978-85

My all-time greatest basketball memory is Allen Iverson stepping over the Lakers' Tyronn Lue in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals. That Sixers team would later lose the next four games. That's literally the best memory I got.

Which is exactly why the above quotes have been lodged in my skull like a combat knife since the The 84 Draft documentary first aired back in July 2014. We could've drafted Michael Jordan AND Charles Barkley? IN THE SAME YEAR? 

Image via YouTube

During an interview with ex-Sixers general manager Pat Williams for Williams' book, former Sixers owner Howard Katz went on to add, "I thought I had a deal with Jonathan Kovler (then the principal owner) of the Bulls for the third pick."

"Rod Thorn (then the Bulls' general manager) killed that one and took Michael Jordan. I would have made that deal."

Thorn would actually go on to become the president and GM of the 76ers (to go along with a stint with the Nets and several high-ranking executive positions with the NBA), but there's no such thing as a do-over when dealing with the greatest player to ever touch a basketball. 

In short—Rod Thorn lowkey ruined my childhood.

Even more, he single-handedly changed the fate of two American cities. Although it's impossible to precisely calculate His Airness' economic impact, more than a few have tried, and it's clear that the Chicagoland area has greatly benefited from having MJ in ways that don't involve golden basketball trophies. One 1998 Fortune article had Jordan's overall impact somewhere in the $10 billion range. And that was 1998—a whole gang of ugly Air Jordans weren't even released yet!

So we at Complex Sports decided to ask, "What if?" What if Rod Thorn had given Philly the third pick for Dr. J? What if the Bulls' GM decided to energize his apathetic fanbase by trading for a household name instead of hitching his wagon to a rookie? What if Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were both drafted by the 76ers in 1984? 

Let's find out.