Sam Perkins’ success story started before he got drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. Perkins was a co-captain on the 1984 United States men’s Olympic basketball team. The team won the gold in the Olympics that year. The 1984 United States men’s Olympic basketball team was the last team to win an Olympic gold medal in basketball.
Sam Perkins was selected by the Dallas Mavericks 4th overall in the 1984 NBA Draft. In his rookie season,the power forward played in all 82 games, starting in 42 of them. In his first year he averaged 11.0 points per game (PPG), 7.4 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.6 assists per game (APG), 0.8 steals per game (SPG), and 0.8 blocks per game (BPG). His hard work earned him a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Team.
Perkins would only improve from his rookie season. Improving in all aspects in his second season, averaging 15.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, and 1.2 BPG. Each of his seasons on the Mavericks he was able to average double digit numbers when it came to points. He was part of the Dallas Mavericks team that made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals in 1988, only to fall to the eventual NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, in seven games. For all his success on the court, the only recognition he was given was his place on the NBA All-Rookie Team.
His time in Dallas came to an end in the 1990 off-season when he signed with the Lakers as a free agent. In the middle of the 1992-1993 season, Perkins was traded from the Lakers to the Seattle Supersonics, where he spent six seasons with them. He was signed as a free agent by the Indiana Pacers in the middle of the 1998-1999 season, where he spent the rest of his career until he was waived by them in the 2001 off-season. That would be the end of Perkins’ NBA career.
As part of the Mavericks, Perkins averaged 14.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 0.9 BPG. He was the starting power forward and small forward during his time there. His only singles achievement with the Mavericks was being part of the 1985 NBA All-Rookie Team. On January 15, 1997, as part of the Supersonics, he tied an NBA record by making eight three-pointers without a miss. In that same game, he made all eight of his field-goal attempts and his two free-throw attempts, shooting a 100% during that game and scoring 26 points. He was able to reach the Finals three times in his career, once with the Lakers, once with the Supersonics, and once with the Pacers, but he was never able to win the NBA championship. Perkins biggest career achievement was being part of the 1984 United States men’s Olympic basketball team and winning the gold medal.
Since retiring, Perkins has worked with the Special Olympics, NBA Cares, along with other charities. In 2002, he was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team. He was also inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2018, he was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2008, he was hired as the vice president of player relations for the Pacers, a position he held until 2010. In 2011, he continued his charity work by going to South Sudan with Dikembe Mutumbo as Sports Envoys. While in South Sudan, they ran basketball clinics and did team-building exercises with the youth. Perkins began to run his own basketball summer camp in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Perkins had a memorable beginning to his career and was winning gold before even making it into the NBA. However, when it came to his time in the NBA, he was close but yet so far to winning the big one. His hard work did get rewarded at the end however by getting inducted into two basketball halls of fame. Once his career was over, he would help the future in any way possible.