According to Kenny Smith, his position in the 1987 NBA Draft dropped to 6th due to an injury report. Smith asserts that the injury report had a significant impact on his draft position.
Kenny Smith says he always wondered what it would have been like to play with Michael Jordan in the NBA.
Because of that, The Jet says that he was jealous of Scottie Pippen throughout his NBA career. Speaking to Stephen A. via the KnowMercy Podcast, Kenny explained why.
“I was jealous of Scottie Pippen my whole basketball career because I was the 6th pick and he was the 5th pick. And at that time, I don’t know if it was ‘failing a physical’ but they weren’t sure because the doctors were saying, oh he’d only have a two-year career based on his knee, his ankle, whatever it was. But then you go to another team, and this is before the one different doctor that examined the same player. I’m the reason that the rule is like that because I was able to do multiple things and they were getting all these multiple reports.”
Kenny was picked one spot after Pippen in the NBA Draft “So I was jealous that Scottie Pippen got to play with Michael Jordan because I knew that I needed a guy like that to go, Kenny, you’ve got to push yourself harder, Kenny like some people have that innately in them. I’m the guy, I know who I was, I’m the guy that if you say we’re going to do 100 laps, I’m doing 100 and I’m not complaining about one. And I needed that push,” he continued.
Smith was the Sacramento Kings’ 6th overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft but according to him, he could have gone up to 5th and possibly played with Michael Jordan in Chicago had it not been for some injury report which questioned his knees or ankles. However, it’s unclear whether the Bulls would have taken him in the draft, with or without that alleged injury report.
Per the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls coveted Pippen and they “worked past the Sunday night trading deadline” and into Monday morning to acquire the Central Arkansas forward. The report added that the “SuperSonics and Bulls both used their allotted five minutes to announce their choice, an indication that the deal was being worked on as the team was drafting.”
In essence, the Sonics didn’t pick Pippen for themselves. They picked him on behalf of the Bulls. A report from the Spokesman-Review would confirm this as it said that Seattle agreed to trade down with the Bulls on the condition that Georgetown’s Reggie Williams was no longer available at No. 5. When the Clippers picked Williams at No. 4, the Sonics-Bulls trade was on.
The Jet really wanted to play with MJ The Jet said he really wanted to play with MJ because he said that needed a strong personality to push him. Playing with MJ would have been a college reunion as Smith played with MJ during the latter’s junior year in college, which would be his last too.
After starting his career with Sacramento, Smith would eventually find his way to Houston, where he played for six seasons. There, Smith played with a peak Hakeem Olajuwon who led the team to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, earning Smith two championship rings before his career started to fade.
For whatever it’s worth, Kenny Smith would have been the best point guard that Michael Jordan ever played with if the Bulls ended up picking him. During the Bulls’ title runs, the point guards on the team were John Paxson, BJ Armstrong, Ron Harper, Steve Kerr, and Randy Brown. However, if Chicago ended up with Smith instead of Pippen, MJ might not have won as many championships, if at all.