Ralph Lee Sampson Jr. (born July 7, 1960) is an American retired basketball player. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A 7-foot-4 phenom, three-time College Player of the Year, and first selection in the 1983 NBA draft, Sampson brought heavy expectations with him to the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA Rookie of the Year, Sampson averaged 20.7 points and 10.9 rebounds for his first three seasons with the Houston Rockets before injuries began to take their toll. Three knee surgeries later he retired as a four-time All-Star, an NBA Rookie of the Year, and an NBA All-Star Game MVP (1985). One of his many career highlights was a buzzer-beating shot to dethrone the Los Angeles Lakers as Western Conference champions in 1986, derailing their hopes for coveted back-to-back NBA titles, and sending the Rockets to their second NBA Finals in the team's history.
Sampson in 2010
|Born||July 7, 1960|
|Listed height||7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)|
|Listed weight||228 lb (103 kg)|
|High school||Harrisonburg (Harrisonburg, Virginia)|
|NBA draft||1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall|
|Selected by the Houston Rockets|
|Position||Center / Power forward|
|1987–1989||Golden State Warriors|
|1992–1993||James Madison (assistant)|
|2012–2013||Phoenix Suns (assistant)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||7,039 (15.4 ppg)|
|Rebounds||4,011 (8.8 rpg)|
|Assists||1,038 (2.3 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2011
Sampson was already 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) tall by the ninth grade, reaching 7-foot-1 in high school in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He averaged nearly 30 points, 19 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots as a senior (after averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds as a sophomore, and 19 points and 17 rebounds as a junior), at Harrisonburg High, leading the team to state AA basketball championships in 1978 and 1979. His senior year he lost the high school player of the year award to another talented center, Sam Bowie. However, he did get a form of revenge against Bowie, outplaying him in the Capital Classic, getting 23 points and 21 rebounds with 4 blocks in a game styled "Battle of the Giants".
Sampson was arguably the most heavily recruited college basketball prospect of his generation and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated six times in a span of less than four years (December 17, 1979; December 1, 1980; March 30, 1981; November 29, 1982; December 20, 1982; and October 31, 1983).
Playing center for the University of Virginia, he led the Cavaliers to an NIT title in 1980, an NCAA Final Four appearance in 1981 and an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 1983. He earned three Naismith Awards as the National Player of the Year, only the second athlete to do so (Bill Walton was the first), and a pair of Wooden Awards. Sampson considered leaving Virginia after his junior year and declaring for the 1982 NBA draft. The San Diego Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers would flip a coin to determine who would draft first overall, but the deadline for Sampson to make himself available came before the scheduled coin flip. Rather than risk playing for the Clippers (who ended up losing the toss), Sampson stayed in school.
With his size and agility Sampson was expected to score like Wilt Chamberlain and win championships like Bill Russell when he reached the National Basketball Association. The Houston Rockets picked him first overall in the 1983 NBA draft. 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, which qualified them to pick first in the 1984 NBA draft. Houston selected fellow center Hakeem Olajuwon out of the University of Houston. Many observers criticized the Rockets' choice, believing the two 7-footers (known as the Twin Towers) would not be effective playing together, while others thought the combination could 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."
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. On March 5, 1985, in a loss against the Denver Nuggets, Sampson recorded 30 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals and was the first player in NBA history to record at least 30 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals since the league started recording steals.
The next season Houston won the Midwest Division with a 51–31 record. In the playoffs, the Rockets swept the Sacramento Kings, but faced a stiffer challenge against Alex English and the Denver Nuggets in the Conference Semi-Finals, eventually winning the series 4–2, with the sixth and deciding game going to double overtime. Against the defending champion Lakers in the Conference Finals, the Rockets were ready to knock off their rivals who had the best of them during the season. The Rockets lost game 1, but the Rockets fought back, winning four straight to take the series four games to one. In Game 5 of that series, Sampson provided one of the most memorable moments in NBA Playoff history. With the score tied at 112, Olajuwon having earlier been ejected, and with only one second remaining on the clock, Sampson took an inbounds pass and launched a twisting turnaround jumper that sailed through the hoop at the buzzer, giving the Rockets a 114-112 victory and a shocking series upset.
In the NBA Finals the Rockets faced the Boston Celtics. Boston sportswriters were not happy about not getting revenge against the Lakers who had beaten the Celtics in the Finals the year before, but the matchup was interesting with the young front court challenging the old guard of the Celtics. During the season at the Boston Garden, the Rockets were playing the Celtics well until Sampson suffered a jarring fall on his back. At the start of the Finals, Sampson quickly found himself in foul trouble early in Game 1 as Boston easily went up 2-0 going back to Houston. The Rockets won a close Game 3 under the leadership of Sampson. Game 4 also went down to the wire with the Celtics pulling it out on late Larry Bird 3-pointer heroics and untimely turnovers by Rockets guard Mitch Wiggins. In a similarly close Game 5 in Houston, (under the 2–3–2 format) Sampson succumbed to taunting by Boston's much smaller 6-foot-1 backup guard Jerry Sichting resulting in Sampson taking a swing and earning an ejection from the game. Strangely, this fired up the Rockets, who won Game 5 by 15 points without Ralph thanks to the inspired play of Olajuwon, Jim Petersen, and Robert "Bobby Jo" Reid. Game 6 went back to Boston with Sampson finding himself again in foul trouble and of little effect against the older and wiser Celtic front court of Bird, McHale and Parish. After the series, Boston coach KC Jones called the Rockets, "the new monsters on the block" with the future looking very bright for the Rockets. During the six-game championship series loss against the Celtics, Sampson averaged 14.8 points on .438 shooting, 9.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Injured halfway into the 1987–88 season, Sampson fell out of favor with Rockets Coach Bill Fitch and was traded, along with guard Steve Harris, to the Golden State Warriors for Eric "Sleepy" Floyd and Joe Barry Carroll. Sampson's knee and back troubles worsened, and he never played a full season in the remaining years of his NBA career. He averaged 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds with Golden State in 1988–89 and was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Jim Petersen. Sampson's injury issues continued in Sacramento as he totaled just 51 games in two seasons, averaging 4.2 and 3.0 points, respectively, in 1989–90 and 1990–91. Released by the Kings, Sampson played a 10-game stint with the Washington Bullets in 1991–92 before being waived. He played 441 games in 10 NBA seasons, slightly more than half the 820 scheduled.
Sampson played eight games for Unicaja Ronda of the Spanish League during the 1991–92 season. He also would play for the Rockford Lightning in the Continental Basketball Association during the 1994–95 season before ultimately retiring for good.
Reflecting back on his career and its three knee surgeries, Sampson admitted that he had attempted to come back too quickly from them, and said that he tried not to think about what could have been.
In 1996, Sampson was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men's basketball team as one of the fifty best players in Atlantic Coast Conference history – one of only three Virginia Cavaliers so honored.
In 2005, Sampson pleaded guilty to owing more than $300K in back child support for two children from different mothers in the Northern Virginia area. In 2006, he was sentenced to two months in prison for mail fraud associated with the purchase of an SUV.
On November 22, 2011, Sampson was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. In February 2012, Sampson was honored by Houston Rockets and fans as a member of the Decade Team of the 80s. On April 2, 2012, Sampson was named a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's induction class of 2012.
Sampson's son, Ralph Sampson III, played collegiate basketball for Minnesota. Sampson's younger son, Robert, transferred to Georgia Tech after playing his first three seasons (2010–2013) of college basketball for East Carolina University. Sampson also has three daughters: Rachel Lee Sampson, who graduated from Stanford University and works at ESPN, Leah Sampson, and the youngest, Anna Aleize Sampson.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
The 1980–81 NCAA Division I men's basketball season began on November 28, 1980, progressed through the regular season and conference tournaments, and concluded with the 1981 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament Championship Game on March 30, 1981, at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Indiana Hoosiers won their fourth NCAA national championship with a 63–50 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.1980–81 Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team
The 1980–81 Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team represented University of Virginia and was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.1981 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans
The Consensus 1981 NCAA Men's Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of four major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Associated Press, the USBWA, The United Press International and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.1982 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans
The Consensus 1982 College Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of four major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Associated Press, the USBWA, The United Press International and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.1982–83 NCAA Division I men's basketball season
The 1982–83 NCAA Division I men's basketball season began in November 1982 and ended with the Final Four in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 4, 1983. The NC State Wolfpack won their second NCAA national championship with a 54–52 victory over the heavily-favored #1 ranked Houston Cougars.1982–83 Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team
The 1982–83 Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team represented the University of Virginia and was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
On December 23, 1982, the Chaminade Silverswords of Honolulu defeated the No. 1 ranked Cavaliers 77–72. Silverswords players Tony Randolph scored 19 points and Jim Dunham scored 17. Chaminade was ranked 4th in the NAIA rankings. Ralph Sampson played the entire game and was held to 12 points.1983 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans
The Consensus 1983 College Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of four major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Associated Press, the USBWA, The United Press International and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.1983–84 Houston Rockets season
The 1983–84 Houston Rockets season saw the Rockets draft Ralph Sampson.1983–84 NBA season
The 1983–84 NBA season was the 38th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Boston Celtics winning the NBA Championship, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 3 for the second time since 1969 in the NBA Finals.1985 NBA All-Star Game
The 35th National Basketball Association All-Star Game was played on February 10, 1985, at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The coaches were K. C. Jones (Boston Celtics) for the East, and Pat Riley (Los Angeles Lakers) for the West. The MVP was Ralph Sampson, Houston (29 minutes, 24 points, 10 rebounds).1986 NBA Finals
The 1986 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1985–86 season, and the culmination of the season's playoffs. It pitted the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics against the Western Conference champion Houston Rockets, in a rematch of the 1981 Finals (only Allen Leavell and Robert Reid remained from the Rockets' 1981 team). It was the second and last NBA Championship Series of the 1980s not to feature the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics defeated the Rockets four games to two to win their 16th NBA championship. The championship would be the Celtics' last until 2008. Larry Bird was named the Finals MVP.
On another note, this series marked the first time the "NBA Finals" branding was officially used, as they dropped the "NBA World Championship Series" branding which had been in use since the beginning of the league, though it had been unofficially called the "NBA Finals" for years.
Until the 2011 series, this was the last time the NBA Finals had started before June. Since game three, all NBA Finals games have been played in June. Starting with the following year, the NBA Finals would be held exclusively in the month of June. It was also the last NBA Finals series to schedule a game on a Monday until 1999 and also the last NBA Finals game to be played on Memorial Day. Until the 2018 series, it was the last to conclude before June 10.
CBS Sports used Dick Stockton and Tom Heinsohn as the play-by-play man and color commentator respectively. Meanwhile, Brent Musburger was the host and Pat O'Brien (the Rockets' sideline) and Lesley Visser (the Celtics' sideline) were the sideline reporters.1987 NBA All-Star Game
The 37th National Basketball Association All-Star Game was played on February 8, 1987, at Seattle's Kingdome. Seattle SuperSonics power forward Tom Chambers was the game's MVP.
The Eastern Conference team consisted of the Washington Bullets' Moses Malone and Jeff Malone, the Philadelphia 76ers' Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks and Charles Barkley, the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, the Detroit Pistons' Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer, the Atlanta Hawks' Dominique Wilkins and the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan.
In addition to game MVP Tom Chambers, the Western Conference team featured the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Golden State Warriors' Sleepy Floyd and Joe Barry Carroll, the Dallas Mavericks' Rolando Blackman and Mark Aguirre, the San Antonio Spurs' Alvin Robertson, the Phoenix Suns' Walter Davis, the Denver Nuggets' Alex English and the Houston Rockets' Akeem Olajuwon. Houston's Ralph Sampson was selected but unable to play due to injury.
The coach of the Eastern team was Boston's K.C. Jones. The coach of the Western team was the Lakers' Pat Riley.ACC 50th Anniversary men's basketball team
During the 2002–03 school year, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) celebrated its 50th anniversary by selecting the top players in its respective sports. Fifty players were selected for the men's basketball team, which was voted on by a 120-member committee that was chosen by the conference's 50th Anniversary Committee.North Carolina (12) and Duke (11) led all schools with the most selections. Maryland had eight players selected, followed by Wake Forest (5), Georgia Tech and NC State (4), Virginia (3), Clemson (2) and South Carolina with one. The 50th Anniversary team includes:
17 players who earned National Player of the Year honors a total of 22 times. Ralph Sampson is the only three-time winner in the conference's history.
27 players who earned consensus first-team All-America honors a total of 38 times.
18 players who were three-time first-team All-ACC selections.
48 players were first round selections in either the annual NBA or ABA draft, including 9 players who were the first overall selection in that year's draft.
7 players who earned Academic All-American honors.List of U.S. men's college basketball national player of the year awards
This article lists U.S. men's college basketball national player of the year awards. Several different organizations sponsor an award for the nation's top player.List of tallest players in National Basketball Association history
This is a list of the tallest players in National Basketball Association history, topped by 7-foot-7-inch (2.31 m) Gheorghe Mureșan, taken by the Washington Bullets as the number 30 overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft.Through 2017, twenty five players have been listed at 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m) or taller. Two are active as of the 2017–18 season; Kristaps Porziņģis of the Dallas Mavericks and Boban Marjanović of the Philadelphia 76ers. The tallest player inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is 7-foot-6-inch (2.29 m) Yao Ming. In addition to Yao, Ralph Sampson and Arvydas Sabonis were the only other players 7'3" or taller selected to the Hall of Fame.
Yasutaka Okayama, a 7-foot-8-inch (2.34 m) Japanese basketball player picked 171st overall in the seventh round of the 1981 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, is the tallest player to ever be drafted for the NBA. He never played in the league.Ralph Sampson III
Ralph Lee Sampson III (born January 5, 1990) is an American professional basketball player who last played for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League. He played college basketball for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.UPI College Basketball Player of the Year
The UPI College Basketball Player of the Year was an annual basketball award given to the best men's basketball player in NCAA Division I competition. The award was first given following the 1954–55 season and was discontinued following the 1995–96 season. It was given by United Press International (UPI), a news agency in the United States that rivaled the Associated Press but began to decline with the advent of television news.
Five players—Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas, Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton and Ralph Sampson—won the award multiple times. Of these five, only Robertson, Walton and Sampson were three-time UPI Players of the Year.
UCLA had the most all-time winners with six. Ohio State was second with four winners, while Cincinnati and Virginia were tied for third with three winners apiece. Five other schools had two winners and sixteen schools had only one UPI Player of the Year.
Eight of the winners were sophomores, seven were juniors, and the remaining 27 were seniors. No freshman was ever presented the award.University Hall (University of Virginia)
University Hall is an 8,457-seat multi-purpose arena on the University of Virginia Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia. The arena opened in 1965 as a replacement for Memorial Gym, which is still used as the home to the volleyball and wrestling teams. Like many arenas built at the time, the arena is circular, with a ribbed concrete roof and blue and orange seats (the orange seats arranged in a "V" near the top of each section) surrounding the arena. Unlike many other facilities, however, the floor was never lowered for additional seating around the court, leaving large areas behind press row, the team benches, and the announcer's table empty during games.
University Hall was replaced by the John Paul Jones Arena as the home to the men's and women's basketball teams in 2006.
UVa's athletic department held "final game" ceremonies for University Hall in connection with the men's basketball game against the Maryland Terrapins on March 5, 2006, which Maryland won 71–70. UVA legend Ralph Sampson sank ceremonial "last baskets" at U-Hall, dunking twice during postgame festivities. 
However, the women's basketball team made the Women's National Invitational Tournament and played and won two WNIT games in University Hall.Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball
The Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball program represents the University of Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Division I of the NCAA. The team is coached by Tony Bennett. Since 2006 the team has played at John Paul Jones Arena, an on-campus arena on the North Grounds of the university, in front of 14,593.
A consistent winner in the early years of college basketball under the tutelage of Pop Lannigan (254–95 from 1905 to 1929), the Cavalier program lay mostly dormant between 1930 and 1975 before Terry Holland arrived to win their first ACC Championship and earn their first NCAA Tournament appearance in his second year. UVA has since finished first in the ACC basketball standings nine times, third best all-time. They have won the ACC Tournament three times.
Virginia won the 2019 NCAA Tournament Championship, has been to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament three times, and won the last third-place game ever played at the event. The Cavaliers have been in the Top 5 of the AP Poll a total of 96 weeks in the past four decades, ranking the program 9th since 1980. Never making the Top 5 from the first poll in 1949 until 1981, the program still ranks 16th all-time by this measure.