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The 25 Most One-Sided Trades in Sports History

Eric NewmanCorrespondent IIIDecember 6, 2012

The 25 Most One-Sided Trades in Sports History

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    Trading is a skill. To do it well takes foresight, know-how, guile and a lot of nerve. 

    Often, these trades benefit both sides involved, but other times, the transfer will create a winning dynasty for one team and inflict a malaise of mediocrity upon the other.

    Click on to see 25 of the most lopsided trades in sports history.

25. Debatable: Pau Gasol Gets Declawed

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    Year: 2008

    Los Angeles cheered, and Memphis moaned. The great Pau Gasol was now a part of Team Kobe. The Lakers got their mojo back and won the NBA championship in 2009 and 2010.

    However, the pendulum is swinging on this one. Many argue that the trade has not worked out so badly for Memphis after all.

    As a result of the deal, they have built up a formidable squad that includes Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

24. Debatable: John Elway Heads to Mile High

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    Year: 1983

    The Broncos do some fine horsetrading, getting future QB legend John Elway for two players and a first-round pick.

    Why is this debatable? Elway took Denver to five Super Bowls, two of which the Broncos won.

    Consider this: Elway was of the Bo Jackson ilk in that he had some damn fine baseball skills. He was already playing in the Yankees' minor-league system.

    He made it known that he did not want to play for Baltimore and would turn his focus to baseball if he wound up on the Colts squad. So Baltimore didn't really have much of a choice but to pass him along.

    Also, keep in mind that one of the players the Colts picked up was Chris Hinton, who would go on to make seven Pro Bowl appearances.

23. Ricky Williams Gets Sainted

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    Year: 1999

    Mike Ditka wanted would-be Washington Redskins running back Ricky Williams to revitalize his struggling squad. So he coughed up pretty much an entire draft for the superstar rookie.

    The Redskins obviously got the much better end of the deal, but they went on to muck it up in further trading, ending up with just four players for their eight picks. Two of those four were complete busts.

22. Bartolo Colón Is Kicked out of the Tribe

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    Year: Midseason of 2002

    The Indians gave star pitcher Bartolo Colón over to the Expos when he still had plenty of good years left in him.

    Seem foolish? Perhaps, but not when you take into account the mighty troika they got in return: Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. All three went on to have stellar careers (though Phillips largely with Cincinnati).

    The Expos got a few strong months out of Colón, but the franchise was on its way to its demise, and in their death throes, they traded him on to the White Sox.

21. Cam Neely Rolls with the Spokes

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    Year: 1986

    The Vancouver Canucks ca-nutted up in a major way when they traded Cam Neely and a first-round pick to Boston for Barry Pederson.

    Sure, Pederson scored two dozen goals in his first season with the Canucks, but his numbers slipped and then plummeted all too quickly.

    Bam-Bam Cam on the other end, "became the archetype of the ultimate power forward." He helped the Bruins reach two Stanley Cup finals and made the Hall of Fame.

    The Bruins used their draft pick on Glen Wesley, who stayed with the team for seven seasons.

20. Bagwell Bodes Well for Astros

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    Year: 1990

    The Red Sox offered up third-base prospect Jeff Bagwell to the Astros in exchange for tried-and-true relief pitcher Larry Andersen.

    And in all fairness, the trade didn't seem so lopsided at the start. Andersen pitched well and contributed to the Sox making a playoff appearance that year.

    But by the next season, Andersen had moved on, having pitched a total of just 15 games and 22 innings for the Red Sox.

    As for Bagwell: NL Rookie of the Year 1991, MVP 1994 (by unanimous vote), Gold Glove 1994, three Silver Sluggers...the guy has awards coming out his ears.

    Bagwell established himself "as the league's premier first baseman, one of the game's best clutch hitters, and probably the best player in Astro history."

19. Kris Draper for $1.00

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    Year: 1993

    Detroit Red Wing assistant manager Doug McLean brokered this deal, truly one of the greatest bargains in the history of sports.

    For one dollar (yes, that's a one with no zeroes), he acquired Kris Draper, a minor-league player from the Winnipeg Jets.

    This apparently was not all that uncommon. Basically, Winnipeg didn't see a future in Draper and wanted to unload his contract on the Red Wings.

    Well, it was a burden the Wings were all too happy to take. Draper stayed with the Red Wings for his entire career. He scored 161 goals, racked up 203 assists and "was an integral part of the Red Wings powerhouse teams that won four Stanley Cups."

18. Erving Escapes the Nets

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    Year: 1976

    When the ABA merged with the NBA, the New York Nets had to cough up some big-time lunch money to the boss of the playground, the New York Knicks.

    The crown jewel of the Nets squad, triple-MVP-award-winner Dr. J, was woefully sent to Philly in exchange for $3 million that would help settle the tab with the Knicks.

    Dr. J went on to play 11 seasons for the 76ers, earning a fourth MVP award and bringing a championship to Philadelphia.

17. Eric Lindros Flees Quebec

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    Year: 1992

    This was the Herschel Walker trade on ice.

    Eric Lindros was good, no doubt. He was, in fact, exceptional. But was he worth Steve Duchesne, Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci and Chris Simon, plus two draft picks and $15 million-plus?

    The Quebec Nordiques (soon to be Colorado Avalanche) would use their new money and manpower well. A short time later they become NHL Goliaths, winning the 1995-96 and 2000-01 Stanley Cups. 

16. Robinson Learns to Tweet

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    Year: 1966

    The Cincinnati Reds sent Frank Robinson to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson.

    Robinson thrived with the Orioles, winning the Triple Crown, American League MVP and 1966 World Series.

    Four years later, Robinson would play in another World Series, this time against his former team. The Reds, who had already parted ways with all three players from the Robinson trade, could only sniffle and sigh as "Robby" helped the Orioles win the series.

15. Wilt Gets 86ed Then 76ed

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    Year: 1965

    The San Francisco Warriors were financially strapped and traded Wilt Chamberlain to the Philadelphia 76ers.

    During the 1966-67 season, the 76ers went on to become NBA champions, beating...wait for it, wait for it...the San Francisco Warriors in the Finals.

14. 250 Bucks for a Piece of the Pack

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    Legions of people around the world have dreamed of owning a professional sports team. Well, when teams like the Green Bay Packers went public, dreams were fulfilled. Kind of.

    What do all the owners of the latest shares in the Pack get for their $250 investment (plus a $25 handling fee)?

    A lovely certificate.

    That's all.

    The share will never go up in value. Oh, and the share can never be sold, except back to the team for a whopping 2.5 cents.

13. Nolan Ryan Gets Wings and Soars

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    Year: 1971

    Nolan Ryan and three other players went to the Mets in exchange for Jim Fregosi.

    In defense of the Mets' end of this disastrous trade, Fregosi was a multiple-All-Star player and "had received MVP votes every year from 1963 to 1970."

    But while Fregosi's career hit the fizzle, Ryan became "The Ryan Express" and locomoted his way to elite status, breaking numerous records and amassing a sizable mountain of awards.

12. Shoeless Joe Heads to C-Town

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    Year: 1910

    Philadelphia Athletics owner/manager Connie Mack felt young Joe Jackson "lacked the disposition to play in a big city like Philly." So he traded Joe off to Cleveland for another player and $6,000.

    Joe, of course, went on to become a baseball legend, playing first in Cleveland, then in Chicago before he was banned from the sport for allegedly throwing the World Series in 1919.

11. Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe Make for Beantown

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    Year: 1997

    Red Sox fans will forever be grateful to the Mariners for this humdinger of a lopsided trade.

    The Sox gladly unloaded Heathcliff Slocumb for two mostly untried but promising young players, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe.

    Writer Matthew Leach of MLB.com writes that to get either Varitek or Lowe for Slocumb  "would have been nice work. To get both was a coup."

10. Gretzky Becomes a King

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    Year: 1988

    Known as "The Trade," it went like this:

    The Edmonton Oilers hand over "The Great One," Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski.

    In return, the Los Angeles Kings give up Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993.

    Canada reeled.

    The Oilers' owner received death threats, and people burned him in effigy.

    One Canadian politician even demanded that the government block the deal from going through.

    The Oilers, who had been a true NHL dynasty, went into subsequent decline.

9. Marius Cioara Swap Meat

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    Year: 2006

    Romanian soccer club UT Arad traded off defender Marius Cioara to Regal Horia for, well, a bunch of meat.

    The winner in this trade?

    UT Arad. See, the deeply insulted Cioara retired soon after, grumbling, "The sausage taunts all got too much."

    So Horia was out a player and 33 pounds of delectable pork sausage.

8. "The Great Trade Robbery"

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    Year: 1989

    Herschel Walker of the Dallas Cowboys was an NFL superstar, no doubt about it. But coach Jimmy Johnson had the gumption to let him go.

    The phones lit up as teams dreamed of making "The Goal Line Stalker" one of their own.

    The Vikings, grossly overeager, made a ludicrous offer:

    For Walker and four draft picks, the Vikings would hand over five players and eight draft picks, including their first-round selection for the next three years.

    Walker played decently for the Vikings, but never got them to the big show.

    The Cowboys, on the other hand, built a powerhouse team and would win the Super Bowl three times in the coming years.

7. Brett Favre Gets Cheesy

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    Year: 1992

    Atlanta hands "The Gunslinger" over to Green Bay in exchange for the 17th overall draft pick.

    Brett Favre quickly became The Pack's starting QB. For an astounding 297 games, he didn't miss a start (playing for Green Bay, the Jets and Vikings).

    He was instrumental in returning the Packers to their former glory. In 1996, he led the team to a Super Bowl victory.

6. Kobe Swats Away the Hornets

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    Year: 1996

    Kobe Bryant would play only for the Lakers. End of discussion. Zero wiggle room.

    So when Charlotte took him with the 13th selection, it was understood that he would be part of a trade with L.A.

    Charlotte had its eye on Lakers’ Vlade Divac, but Divac was not pleased and threatened to retire over becoming a Hornet.

    Would the Hornets and Kobe be stuck with each other?

    That is an impossibility,” Bryant’s agent said.

    The deal went through, and the Black Mamba helped shower the Los Angeles franchise in glory while Divac sank into mediocrity.

5. Cy Young Traded for a Suit

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    Year: 1890

    Yes, one of baseball's greatest pitchers (still the all-time leader in career wins) was sold from the minors into the majors for a suit.

    Hope those were some finely tailored duds.

4. Kevin McHale and Robert Parish Go Green

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    Year: 1980

    Celtics general manager Red Auerbach "pulled off the type of trade that had earned him a reputation for thievery."

    He gave the Golden State Warriors the first and 13th picks in the 1980 NBA draft in exchange for Robert Parish and the third pick in the 1980 draft. That pick was used to acquire Kevin McHale.

    The trade gave the Celtics an electric frontcourt that would last a decade.

    The Warriors used their picks to get Joe Barely Cares (Joe Barry Carroll) and Rickey Brown. Carroll was a huge bust. Brown slightly less so.

3. The Babe Gets Yanked

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    Year: 1920

    Red Sox owner Harry Frazee buys himself a place in the Hall of Boston's Most Hated Forever and Ever when he gave the Babe over to the Yanks, contributing to the rise of Yankee greatness and an 86-year World Series drought for Boston.

2. Pippen Gets His Horns

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    Year: 1987

    Michael Jordan needed a playmate, and he got it in the way of Scottie Pippen, courtesy of the Seattle SuperSonics.

    Seattle traded Pippen for the rights to Olden Polynice, a future second-round selection and the option to exchange first-round selections in 1989.

    Pippen would finish his career with six rings. Polynice played for several teams and finished his career with a lackluster average of 7.8 points per game.

1. Martinez Dodges LA

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    Year: 1993

    The Dodgers swap Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields.

    Ross Newhan of the L.A. Times wonders if this might be "[t]he worst trade in the 50 years that the Dodgers have been in Los Angeles."

    Martinez became a paramount player for the Expos (then the Red Sox, Mets and Phillies). He was an All-Star eight times (and was the All-Star MVP in 1999); he won the Cy Young Award three times and helped the Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino.

    As for DeShields..."De Who?" you ask. Exactly.

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