Avant Victor Wembanyama, il y a eu Ralph Sampson • Basket USA

Avant Victor Wembanyama, il y a eu Ralph Sampson • Basket USA
Avant Victor Wembanyama, il y a eu Ralph Sampson • Basket USA

A true phenomenon in the NCAA under the colors of Virginia (voted best player three years in a row), Ralph Sampson (born July 7, 1960) was logically drafted number 1 by the Rockets in 1983. From the first season, this huge 2m24 guy went crazy: 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks on average! He was the Victor Wembanyama of his time, and people were talking about him as the new Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The following year, Houston chose first again in the famous 1984 Draft and selected a certain Akeem Olajuwon (without an H in Hakeem).

A pivot while Sampson is already there, but why?

Because Ralph Sampson was a winger. Long shots, coast-to-coast and dribbling behind the back did not scare him. He is the ancestor of Kristaps Porzingis and Victor Wembanyama. Compared to the Frenchman, he had the same dexterity with the ball in his hands, but his mid-range shot was clearly less sharp. It is still necessary to remember that 40 years ago, the positions were well anchored and the evasive interiors were rare, if not non-existent.

Equally incredible: his participation in the 1984 Slam Dunk Contest. Here again, the dunks performed by Wembanyama during the warm-up are of the same level, if not better since the Frenchman performs “Riders”.

Magic Johnson’s Lakers Dominated

But make no mistake, like Wembanyama, Ralph Sampson was not a freak show, but a good one.

Four All-Star Game selections, a selection in the best second five of the league, Rookie Of The Year… On an individual level, he collected honors and he was really a very gifted player, as he proved at the 1985 All-Star Game by winning the MVP trophy. Alongside him, only big names: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Akeem Olajuwon, George Gervin, to name a few…

On a collective level, he also shook the NBA in 1986. Associated with Akeem Olajuwon to form the first generation “Twin Towers”, Ralph Sampson eliminated the Lakers of the great era on a buzzer-beater shot! During the FinalsLarry Bird’s Celtics end their title hopes (4-2 defeat), but everyone sees the Rockets as future champions…

Except Sampson doesn’t yet know that these Finals will be the peak of his career. Because the rest will be much less glorious, because of his creaking knees (triple operation!) and his large frame that has more and more difficulty keeping up with the infernal pace of the NBA. This is also the main concern regarding Wembanyama’s future. Sampson, but also Porzingis, have been very slowed down by injuries…

« It was an amazing experience playing together” he would explain a few years later, about his duet with Akeem Olajuwon. ” I would have really liked to play with him longer. I don’t think anyone had imagined the magnitude of our duo, because no one had ever really tried it. There are guys who were also called the ‘Twin Towers’ but not at our level. We were the original ‘Twin Towers’. With his qualities and mine, it was really unique. »

Has been à 29 ans…

In 1988, Houston couldn’t stand seeing him in the infirmary anymore and sent him to Golden State. It would be the beginning of the end for Ralph Sampson. Just three years after reaching the Finalshe is now only averaging 6.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. At 29, he is already a “has been”, in a career that is somewhat reminiscent of those of Brandon Roy, Gilbert Arenas or Penny Hardaway. A shooting star.

Without glory, and after two last stints in Sacramento and Washington, he retired from the NBA at 31. He would try the European adventure, but his stint in Spain would not change anything. He was nothing more than a ghost on the courts. A big carcass that could no longer go back and forth on the court…

In 1992, Ralph Sampson finally drew a line under his playing career and decided to become a coach. He was found as an assistant in the NCAA or in minor leagues. While justice caught up with him for non-payment of alimony and various frauds, one of his sons, Ralph Sampson III, had a decent career at the University of Minnesota.

As for Ralph Sr., he entered the Hall of Fame in 2012, honored for his exceptional college career more than for his brief stint in the NBA, where he left a nickname for posterity with Hakeem Olajuwon (with an H): the “Twin Towers.” Two avant-garde interiors according to him.

« I could move up the court and he could move up the court, so you had two players who could keep up a high pace without having to go down the key. We could dribble, we could shoot and as people often tell me, we were probably a little bit ahead of our time. »

Their spiritual son is French, and like them, he is number 1 in the Draft. And like Sampson, he was Rookie Of The Year.

Ralph Sampson Percentage Rebounds
Saison Team MJ Min Shots 3pts LF Off Def Until Pd Fte Int Bp Ct Pts
1983-84 NEW 82 33 52.3 25.0 66.1 3.0 7.0 11.1 1.0 4.0 0.0 3.0 2.0 21.0
1984-85 NEW 82 38 50.2 0.0 67.6 2.0 7.0 10.4 2.0 3.0 0.0 3.0 2.0 22.1
1985-86 NEW 79 36 48.8 13.3 64.1 3.0 7.0 11.1 3.0 3.0 1.0 3.0 1.0 18.9
1986-87 NEW 43 31 48.9 0.0 62.4 2.0 6.0 8.6 2.0 3.0 0.0 2.0 1.0 15.6
1987-88 * All Teams 48 35 43.8 18.2 76.0 2.0 6.0 9.6 2.0 3.0 0.0 3.0 1.0 15.6
1987-88 * GOS 29 33 43.8 0.0 77.5 2.0 7.0 10.0 2.0 3.0 0.0 3.0 1.0 15.4
1987-88 * NEW 19 37 43.9 33.3 74.1 3.0 6.0 9.1 1.0 3.0 0.0 3.0 1.0 16.0
1988-89 GOS 61 18 44.9 37.5 65.3 1.0 3.0 5.0 1.0 2.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 6.4
1989-90 SAC 26 16 37.2 25.0 52.2 0.0 2.0 3.2 1.0 2.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 4.2
1990-91 SAC 25 14 36.6 20.0 26.3 1.0 2.0 4.4 0.0 2.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 3.0
1991-92 WAS 10 11 31.0 0.0 66.7 1.0 1.0 3.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 2.2
Total 456 30 48.6 17.2 66.1 2.0 6.0 8.8 2.0 3.0 0.0 2.0 1.0 15.4

How to read the stats? GM = Games Played; Min = Minutes; Shots = Shots Made / Shots Attempted; 3pts = 3-pointers / 3-pointers Attempted; LF = Free Throws Made / Free Throws Attempted; Off = Offensive Rebound; Def = Defensive Rebound; Tot = Total Rebounds; Pd = Assists; Fte: Personal Fouls; Int = Steals; Bp = Loose Balls; Ct: Blocks; Pts = Points.



PREV UFC’s Tracy Cortez chops hair, makes weight for Namajunas bout
NEXT Alec Baldwin involuntary manslaughter case dismissed in middle of trial – National