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From the Pressbox: Going Big a reminder of what Bowie was all about

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Before there was Anthony Davis, there was Sam Bowie. A tall, slender, multi-skilled player capable of dominating a game, particularly on the defensive end of the court.

Had Bowie been born 30 years later, it's easy to imagine his rookie season unfolding in a manner similar to Davis' last year. And it's nice that ESPN chose to focus on Bowie's ill-fated career for one of its installments of the "SEC Storied" series, giving fans who never saw Bowie at his best the chance to appreciate just how gifted "Big Boo" was.

"It's nice when you get a chance to reminisce," Bowie said on "The Leach Report" radio show. "They show a lot of footage that I was unaware that they were able to get and it kind of educated me because time goes so quickly throughout my athletic career you forget some of the places, some of the games you played and some of the people you met along the way and I think that this documentary not only educated the public, but it was a refreshing for myself to see my career on the big screen and I was elated by the way they put it together.

"The thing I like is it tells a story of my life. Basketball was just a small part of what I represent and what type of family I come from. I was elated that it told the true story of how I got started to where I am now as a 51-year old man in Lexington, Kentucky."

A good portion of the "Going Big" documentary focuses on Bowie being drafted second in 1984, behind Hakeem Olajuwon and ahead of Michael Jordan.

"I would be lying to you if I said I didn't hear the whispers and the conversations in regards to me being drafted before Mike but that is just the nature of the game. I don't think any of us realize or could have foreseen the future to say that Michael Jordan would become the greatest basketball player that has ever played the game and (Portland) already had two All-Star guards. Not only did they have Clyde Drexler at the two spot, but they also had (Jim) Paxson who had played in many All-Star games for the Portland Trailblazers, so the move for them was the center position and it is unfortunate that I had the setbacks that I had," Bowie noted. "The thing I like about the documentary, you will see Jack Ramsey say that if he had to do it over again, he would have went the same direction. As you mentioned, I think the career that Michael had, it would be hard for anyone to see that coming."

Bowie retired to Lexington after his playing days were over and he is not one to seek out the spotlight. That's why it took some time for the ESPN folks to convince him to participate in the documentary. But he ultimately decided it would be nice for his kids to see him in his prime.

"I was kind of ducking them and had no interest in doing it because I felt as though, my basketball days are way behind me and I have never been big on self-promotion and self-exposure. But, I finally broke down and gave them a call," he said, "and needless to say, I have been very, very impressed with the finished product."

A big part of why Bowie retired to central Kentucky is how he was treated by Big Blue Nation.

"I have had a lot of success through basketball - in high school, college, and professionally. The way you can compensate on the pro level, who wouldn't love that, but whenever I reflect on my career, it's always back at Rupp Arena and the support in the Commonwealth. There is a lot of pressure, a lot of expectations but the memories I have is the fan support and I know it becomes redundant when people say that, but in no place in the world, you would see a group of fans support and follow the program the way the University of Kentucky (fans) do,"  Bowie said.  

In ESPN's All-Access feature on UK basketball, you see Bowie being part of the group that regularly discusses the Cats at breakfast gatherings at Wheeler's Pharmacy in Lexington. After a stint as the analyst on the UK radio network in the late 1990s, Bowie has been content to follow his alma mater as just a fan and he really enjoyed watching last season's team do its thing.

"It was a beautiful thing to see how they developed and how they were playing from the beginning of the year. Obviously, to put another banner up at the University of Kentucky and for those kids to be so young and under so much pressure and under such a big microscope, that is a season and, I hope I am wrong when I say this, but a lot of people when I go to the grocery store, the cleaners or whatever,  they are always trying to compare this year's team from last year's team and I think what we need to realize is we saw something very, very special in regards to the team," he noted. "I was their biggest fan last year and I knew the type of pressure they were under because all those guys were highly recruited and it's almost like as good as the Commonwealth is at supporting our program, they are unrealistic type fans because they think that when you recruit like that, you automatically get a banner. And it doesn't work like that."

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