Ralph Sampson was ever a controversial figure. Bob Knight, made to take Sampson on a national team, derided the young big man and all but called him useless.
He was unable to take Virginia to the Final Four despite being 7-4 and an incredible talent. And in the NBA, after a brilliant start to his career, injuries and perhaps a bit of immaturity limited Sampson’s growth. Fair or not, people questioned Sampson a lot.
But he was capable of amazing things. At 7-4 he had guard-like skills and fantasized about making Magic Johnson’s move to the point.
Originally drafted by the Houston Rockets, he was soon paired with Hakeem Olajuwon in one of the NBA’s great twin towers front court.
By 1986, the Rockets had ascended to the elite and faced Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
And Sampson hit an iconic shot: with one second left, he caught the ball in the air in the lane and hit a turnaround jumper over the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
This with one second left and consider what was on the line - not to mention that it was on the road.
The Rockets would lose to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the Finals but this was one of the great clutch plays in the history of basketball. It should be remembered.