Ralph Sampson - Mr. Mountain Top
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Uploaded on Feb 27, 2008
Ralph Lee Sampson (born July 7, 1960 in Harrisonburg, Virginia) is a retired American college and professional basketball player.
Ralph Sampson came into the NBA as a 7-foot-4 phenomenon, a three-time College Player of the Year, and the No. 1 pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. Accordingly, expectations for Sampson were very high. For his first three years with the Houston Rockets, Sampson averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds. He was NBA Rookie of the Year and a four-time All-Star, and he played on a team that dethroned the Los Angeles Lakers from atop the Western Conference and reached the NBA Finals in 1986.
Sampson was already 6-foot-7 by the ninth grade and was 7-foot-3 in high school in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He averaged nearly 30 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots as a high school senior. As a rookie he averaged 21.0 points and 11.1 rebounds, played in the All-Star Game, and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
The Rockets managed only a 29-53 record in 1983-84 and again earned the right to pick first in the 1984 NBA Draft. This time they chose the 7-foot Olajuwon out of the University of Houston. Many observers felt that the Rockets had made a mistake because it was believed that two 7-footers couldn't play effectively together. But others thought the combination would be overpowering. Sampson, playing a new style of power forward, had new expectations placed upon him. At the time, Dallas Mavericks Coach Dick Motta said, "That front line, when history is written, when they've grown up, might be the best ever assembled on one team. Ever." Houston guard John Lucas said of Sampson's move to forward, "He'll revolutionize the game."
The so-called "Twin Towers" worked out pretty well. In 1984-85 the Rockets improved by 19 games to 48-34 and made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Sampson had his best individual campaign, averaging 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds and earning a berth on the All-NBA Second Team. He and Olajuwon both played in the 1985 NBA All-Star Game, and Sampson, after scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, earned the game's MVP Award.
Houston won the Midwest Division with a 51-31 record and defeated Los Angeles, four games to one, in the Western Conference Finals. In Game 5 of that series in Los Angeles, Sampson provided one of the most memorable moments in NBA Playoff history. With the score tied at 112 apiece and a mere second remaining on the clock, Sampson took an inbounds pass and launched a miraculous, twisting turnaround jumper that sailed through the hoop at the buzzer, giving the Rockets a 114-112 victory and a shocking series upset.
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