Jeremy Lin and 10 NBA Stars Who Never Should Have Escaped

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 20, 2012

Jeremy Lin and 10 NBA Stars Who Never Should Have Escaped

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    There are certain NBA stars who should never have been allowed to escape from their team. 

    After only a handful of starts for the New York Knicks, Jeremy Lin is one of those players. Linsanity had that much of an impact and gripped the nation like no other story. 

    So, throughout the entirety of NBA history, who are the other players in the same boat? 

    Read on to find out. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a dominant force in the NBA as soon as he stepped foot on the court for the first time. 

    After he was picked at No. 1 in the 1969 NBA draft, Abdul-Jabbar stormed to the Rookie of the Year award and then won a championship alongside new acquisition Oscar Robertson in 1971. 

    He continued to play for the Milwaukee Bucks for the next few years until he decided that the city didn't fulfill his cultural needs. 

    As a result, the Bucks traded Walt Wesley and one of the greatest players in history to the Los Angeles Lakers for Junior Bridgeman, Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters. 

    Then, they got to watch as Kareem helped the Lakers put together a dynasty and win five titles in the 1980s. 

Charles Barkley

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    After making the All-Star team for six seasons in a row and the All-NBA squad for seven, 28-year-old Charles Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry. 

    Barkley had demanded a trade away from the Philadelphia 76ers after his team failed to make the playoffs despite his excellent play. 

    As is so often the case, this could have been solved if the Sixers had been able to make just a few more impact acquisitions. 

    Barkley went on to win the MVP award the year after he was traded. 

Wilt Chamberlain

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    Playing for the Philadelphia and San Francisco Warriors, Wilt Chamberlain put up numbers that are normally only seen in video games. 

    He had a 100-point game, averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game during the 1961-1962 season, was named the MVP and led the league in scoring each and every year he was with the team. 

    After the 1964-1965 season started slowly for the Warriors, the organization decided to ease its financial trouble by trading Chamberlain to the Syracuse Nationals for Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer and $150,000. 

    The owner of the team, Franklin Mieuli, said the following about the trade

    "Chamberlain is not an easy man to love. I don't mean that I personally dislike him. He's a good friend of mine. But the fans in San Francisco never learned to love him. I guess most fans are for the little man and the underdog, and Wilt is neither. He's easy to hate, and we were the best draw in the NBA on the road, when people came to see him lose."

Wilt Chamberlain Again

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    We aren't finished with Wilt the Stilt quite yet. 

    The Chairman of the Boards didn't stick around with the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers for long either. 

    In his three seasons with the team, Chamberlain won an NBA title, was a three-time MVP and continued to completely dominate his competition on both ends of the court. However, he could never get along with the men in charge. 

    More specifically, Alex Hannum and Wilt just couldn't ever get along. Even after the coach left, Chamberlain was still too fed up with the organization to remain and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff. 

    In Wilt's autobiography Wilt, the big man wrote, "But, as Irv Kosloff has since admitted, my departure was the beginning of the end for the 76er franchise..."

Julius Erving

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    After he led the ABA in scoring with 29.3 points per game for the New York Nets, Julius Erving was shipped off to the Philadelphia 76ers franchise. 

    The Nets were one of four teams set to join the NBA in the ABA-NBA merger, but they were forced to pay $4.8 million to the New York Knicks due to the close proximity of the two teams. 

    Roy Boe, the owner of the Nets, had an outstanding contract offer with Erving but was forced to go back on the promise after going out of pocket for the aforementioned millions. 

    When the Sixers offered $3 million for Erving's services, Boe had no other option than to accept the deal. 

    The high-flyer would go on to continue his domination in the NBA, winning an MVP award and a title with the Sixers. 

LeBron James

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    If the Cleveland Cavaliers had been able to put better supporting pieces around LeBron James, there's a solid chance that he would still be in the same jersey he was drafted into back in 2003. 

    Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and a washed-up Shaquille O'Neal just weren't enough for LeBron to be surrounded with, no matter how dominant he was with the Cavs. 

    We all know how this one played out. 

    After the prolonged free agency saga, James announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach, where he's been nothing short of sensational with the Miami Heat. 

Jeremy Lin

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    Amazingly enough, Jeremy Lin is one of only two players on this list who moved teams during free agency and not through a trade. That's because the man who inspired Linsanity has an unparalleled amount of marketability and massively upgrades his team's fanbase. 

    With only a half-season of action to work with, the Houston Rockets signed Lin to a backloaded offer sheet that the New York Knicks decided not to match. 

    Although we have yet to see how good Lin will be with his new team, this move seems like it's going to be quite significant. 

Shaquille O'Neal

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    If Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant could have gotten along, they might have been able to win a lot more than "just" three titles. 

    After The Big Diesel wanted more "mine" and less emphasis on making Kobe happy, he demanded a trade and was sent to the Miami Heat for two draft picks, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and Lamar Odom

    Both Kobe and Shaq are top-10 players, but they could have been even more highly thought of in a historical sense if they'd remained content playing with each other. 

Mitch Richmond

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    Despite winning Rookie of the Year in 1989 and dominating alongside Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin in the famed "Run TMC" pairing for the Golden State Warriors, Mitch Richmond was traded away after three seasons. 

    Richmond, Les Jepsen and a draft pick were sent to the Sacramento Kings for Billy Owens. 

    Using his pure shot from the outside, Richmond made All-Star team after All-Star team with the Sacramento Kings while the Dubs didn't advance past the first round of the playoffs until 2007. 

    While Richmond was in town, the team was laden with potential. After the trade, that wasn't the case. 

Oscar Robertson

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    After going to college at Cincinnati and playing the beginning of his storied NBA career with the Cincinnati Royals, Oscar Robertson was at home with the team that drafted him. 

    He made nine All-Star teams and was named MVP once before the Royals decided to trade him to the Milwaukee Bucks for Charlie Pauk and Flynn Robinson. 

    It didn't take long for Robertson to win his first title. Playing alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he immediately emerged victorious during his first season with the Bucks. 

    Had Bob Cousy never joined forces with the Royals, Robertson might have played out his career with the team. The following comes from NBA.com's biography of The Big O:

    Before the 1969-70 season, near the end of Robertson's peak as a player, the Royals brought in Cousy as head coach. Cincinnati had missed the playoffs two years in a row, and attendance was suffering. To draw fans and generate some excitement, the 41-year-old Cousy even put on a uniform and played seven games in the backcourt with Robertson.

    Then, prior to the 1970-71 season, the Royals stunned the basketball world by trading Robertson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Flynn Robinson and Charlie Paulk. Theories attempting to explain the trade abounded. Many observers believed it was Cousy's jealousy of Robertson that led to the trade. The Big O had just broken many of Cousy's records and Cincinnati was suddenly too small for the both of them. "Whatever his reasons were," Robertson later said, "I think he was wrong and I'll never forget it." Fans up and down the Ohio River mourned.