Georgi Glouchkov — Bulgarian basketball sensation
Perhaps you are asking yourself, as I did last August when I was in Bulgaria, if anyone from Bulgaria has ever played in the NBA? The answer is Georgi Glouchkov. Of course. Georgi was drafted with the 148th overall pick by Phoenix in the 1985 NBA draft ((That's 12 picks before Mario Elie, so you know.)).
This was back in the day when they used to have seven-plus rounds instead of two, resulting in all kinds of interesting picks like an eventually voided Atlanta Hawks pick selecting a not-yet-21-year-old Arvydas Sabonis in the 4th round, the Bulls selecting Carl Lewis with the 208th pick despite him never having played organized basketball at any level, the New Orleans Jazz selecting Lusia Harris — the only woman ever drafted in the NBA — with the 137th pick and the Warriors drafting 7-foot 8-inch Yasutaka Okayama with the 171st pick in the 10th round.
Buck back to Georgi.
His strong rebounding performance (19.0 RPG!) in Europe attracted the Suns attention, but his performance in the NBA was pretty lackluster. Sadly, his story takes a far-too familiar twist for players from the 80s when it's derailed by... fast food and candy. Or steroids ((Because, as any doctor will tell you, the the side-effects of candy and steroids are essentially the same. This was a mystery that could not be solved by, you know, asking. Or drug testing.)). Nobody was entirely sure, and evidently nobody cared enough to get to the bottom of the issue ((Actual sentences lifted from his Wikipedia page as of this writing: Some Suns' staff members attributed his weight gain to his taste for American fast food and candy, but rumors also surfaced that he was experimenting with steroids...The Suns never determined the cause of his weight fluctuations, but after a poor performance in summer league competition, the Suns advised him to return to Europe)) .
When he showed up for summer league weighing 25lbs less than when they'd drafted him a year earlier — a remarkable feat if you've ever been around Bulgarian food any extended amount of time — management told him to go back to Europe.
And thus ends Bulgaria's chapter in professional American basketball. For now.
Enjoy these highlights from a game agains the 76ers where he has a nice put-back dunk, a solid drive that results in a missed dunk and a good foul against Moses Malone:
If you like weird NBA facts as much as I do you'll probably like this article about draft oddities.