Former Houston Rocket great Ralph Sampson was on The Herd this morning and shared a fascinating story of when Red Auerbach showed up at his house when he was in high school and took out a briefcase with 1 million dollars and said it would be his if he went straight to the NBA. Of course, Sampson would go on to have a tremendous college career at Virginia and the Celtics ended up with an even better Plan B for that draft. Auerbach traded down from #1 to #3, drafted Kevin McHale, and picked up Robert Parish for moving down. For Sampson's part one million dollars was quite a lot to turn down at that time.
One could argue that some of the best moves are the ones you don't make. But at the time offering that cash to Ralph Sampson as opposed to the #1 overall pick Joe Barry Carrol would have been genius. And who's to say that if the Celtics drafted Sampson #1 they couldn't have made another trade at that time using other assets for the #3 pick and Parish? Sampson pretty much underperformed in the NBA, compared to the expectations he brought from college, but if he had been a Celtic instead of a Rocket and teamed up with Larry Bird, who knows what would have happened? I'm sure he wished he was on the home team at the Garden during Game 6 of the 1986 Finals.