As NBA Trade Deadline Nears A Look Back At Ten Deals That Resurfaced The League
Just one look, that's all it tooooook, just one look, that's all it toooook, just one player, that's it all it tooook, just one player, that's all it tooook — okay, that's enough of that.
Never had much in the way of song writing skills, but a familiarity with the big National Basketball Association deals that dramatically contributed to the championship fortunes of league franchises over the past 40 or 50 years — that we have.
So without further adieu, as this years Feb. 17 deadline nears with many wondering upon the star of Denver's Carmelo Anthony—wondering whether the hometown side can reel in a critical piece that propels them to the top of the playoff to come power rankings—we take a look back at ten maneuvers that resurfaced the NBA's landscape going all the way back to Red Auerbach's dramatic 1956 pre draft deal that set the Boston Celtics off on a road to enduring greatness that hasn't stopped winding as of the present day.
Hope you enjoy it,
1. Red Auerbach Snags The Draft Rights To Bill Russell
With the 1956 NBA Draft approaching, Boston Celtics Coach and General Manager Red Auerbach was eager to add University of San Francisco product Bill Russell to his lineup.
Auerbach had built a high-scoring offensive machine around guards Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman and undersized center Ed Macauley, but he hadn't been able to muster the defense and rebounding needed to transform the Celtics into a championship-caliber club. Russell, Auerbach felt, was the missing piece to the puzzle.
However, because of their second place finish the year before, the Celtics would be picking too late in the draft to get Russell and because Auerbach wanted to use a territorial selection to nab Holy Cross star Tom Heinsohn, Boston would forfeit its first round pick altogether. So Auerbach began to think trade, and he set his sights on the St. Louis Hawks, who owned the second overall pick in the draft.
The first pick belonged to the Rochester Royals, but that team already had a promising young rebounder in Maurice Stokes, and Auerbach knew that Royals owner Les Harrison was not going to pay Russell the $25,000 signing bonus he was asking for. Rochester selected guard Sihugo Green, who played nine seasons in the league with five different teams (including, ironically, the Celtics in 1965-66).
St. Louis owner Ben Kerner was willing to talk trade, and the key was Macauley. The 6-8 center was a six-time All-Star at that point and a local hero in St. Louis, where he had grown up and then starred for St. Louis University. Auerbach could afford to give up Macauley if he was getting Russell, but it was not until Boston agreed to add rookie Cliff Hagan to the mix that Kerner consented to the trade. The deal brought the Hawks a championship in 1958, but it brought the Celtics a dynasty as Boston went on to win nine NBA titles in the following ten years.
A few Russell highlights: Five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, 12-time All-Star, the Celtic middle man amassed 21,620 career rebounds, an average of 22.5 per game and led the league in rebounding four times. He had 51 boards in one game, 49 in two others and a dozen consecutive seasons of 1,000 or more rebounds.
2. Wilt Chamberlain Is Traded Back To Philly By The San Francisco Warriors
Wilt the Stilt made his early bones for the Philadelphia Warriors, (who went on to become the San Francisco Warriors), and while his individual feats rewrote statistical basketball history (in '61/'62 for example he averaged an incredible 50 points and 48.5 minutes per game), his team suffered the frequent plague of being matched against Bill Russell and the formidable Celtics come playoff time.
After a pair of seasons, '62/'63, '63/64 on the West Coast, Chamberlain was sent back east to the newly formed Philadelphia 76ers (formerly the Syracuse Nationals), for a long since forgotten trio of players — Connie Dierking, Lee Shaffer, Paul Neumann — and $150,000.
The Sixers were a .500 ball club in Chamberlain's initial year on the team. The following season, 1965-66, Philadelphia posted the best record in the league, at 55-25, but for the second year in a row the 76ers fell to Boston in the Eastern Division Finals.
But prior to the '66'67 season, Philadelphia added talented forward Billy Cunningham and started the year by winning 45 of its first 49 games en route to an 68-13 record, at the time the best in league history.
In the division semifinals, the Sixers ousted Cincinnati. The division finals saw the 76ers matched up against the Celtics—and Chamberlain matched up against Russell once again. After years of frustration, Chamberlain finally got by his arch rival as Philly raced by Boston in five games, ending the Celtics' eight-year stranglehold on the NBA title. Playing the San Francisco Warriors in the 1967 NBA Finals, the Sixers came away with the championship, winning the series in six games.
Some Wilt facts and figures: Only NBA player to score 4,000 points in a season. Holds NBA single game records for most points (100), most consecutive field goals (18) and most rebounds (55).
Most games with 50+ points, 118. Most consecutive games with 40+ points, 14. Most consecutive games with 30+ points: 65. Most consecutive games with 20+ points: 126. Highest rookie scoring average: 37.6 ppg. Highest field goal percentage in a season: .727.
Averaged 22.9 rebounds per game over a 14 year career, never less than 18.2 for the '70/'71 Los Angeles Lakers.
3. Dave DeBusschere Come To The New York Knicks
The Knicks had already built an impressive nucleus primarily through the draft. Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Cazzie Russell and Walt 'Clyde' Frazier all came to New York between 1965 & 1967. But it was the move for DeBusschere that allowed Willis Reed to move to center that set in motion the great '69/'70 run to the NBA finals and the epic match that ensued against Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Knicks opened with a 124-112 win in Game One. The Lakers bounced back with a 105-103 victory in Game two and the series shifted to Los Angeles.
In Game Three, the Knicks took a two point lead with three seconds to go on a DeBusschere 15 footer, but Jerry West took the inbound pass from Chamberlain, dribble twice and then threw up a miracle 63 footer that somehow caught net and tied the game.
But the Knicks prevailed in OT. To this day, Jerry West will remark "that he still cannot believe the Lakers lost that game", and the Knicks went up in the series 2-1.
Game Four was another OT thriller, this time the Lakers prevailed 121-115, behind 37 points from West and another 30 from Elgin Baylor.
Back to New York for Game Five the Knicks suffered a seismic loss when their leader, center Willis Reed went down with a bad calf injury. The Lakers took a 16 point lead in the third but the Knicks went to an unrelenting full court defense and rallied for a 107-100 victory.
Meanwhile the 6'-7" DeBusschere was forced to man up against the 7'-1" Chamberlain and back at the Forum for Game Six, Wilt took no quarter and strafed the Knicks for 45 points en route to a 135-113 Laker rout setting up a Game Seven match at what would be a frenzied Madison Square Garden.
That turned out to be one of the games' historic moments. Willis Reed made a dramatic entrance onto the court during shoot around, played the first couple of moments, hit a couple of jumpers and the Knicks never looked back behind an astounding team effort highlighted by Walt Frazier's 36-point, 19 assist, 7 rebound performance.
In that 113-99 victory, DeBusschere played Chamberlain once more this time holding the big 'fella to 21 points (1-11 from the free throw line), putting up 18 while hauling in 17 rebounds himself.
That Knick team twice returned to the finals, losing in '72, winning in '73, but Reed's persistent knee troubles and DeBusschere's endless brutal battles in the middle as a result of the Captain's absence short circuited what might have been a longer run for the New Yorkers.
Both players retired after the 1974 season and the New York Knicks have never seen an NBA Championship since.
4. Oscar Robertson Heads To Milwaukee
Oscar Robertson exploded onto the NBA scene (out of the University of Cincinnati where his teams had gone 79-9 over his three varsity seasons), in 1960 finishing third in the league in scoring (30.5 ppg) and winning NBA Rookie of the Year honors for 1960-61. The Big O made his first of 12 consecutive trips to the NBA All-Star Game, winning the MVP Award after scoring 23 points and setting a record with 14 assists, one better than Bob Cousy's previous mark. Robertson also ended Cousy's eight-year string of regular season assists titles by leading the league with 9.7 per game.
In 1961-62, the year he averaged a triple-double (30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game), and Robertson led the Cincinnati Royals to the first of six straight trips to the playoffs.
But by the age of 31, the 'Big O' was still searching for an NBA Championship. Prior to the 1970/1971 season, he was traded to Milwaukee where he joined second year center, New York City born, UCLA bred phenom, Lew Alcindor (or as he was later known, Kareem Abdul Jabbar), in the Bucks' lineup.
With the virtually unstoppable Alcindor winning the scoring title and the MVP Award, Milwaukee posted the NBA's best record in 1970-71 at 66-16. Robertson had what for him was a typical late career season. He played in all but one game and tallied 19.4 points, 8.2 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Compared to the 'Big O's' postseason struggles in Cincinnati, the Bucks' relatively easy road through the 1971 playoffs was an unusual experience. Milwaukee breezed by the San Francisco Warriors and Los Angeles to reach the NBA Finals against the Baltimore Bullets.
From there the Bucks glided past the Bullets and their strong front court of Wes Unseld and Gus Johnson in four games, the first Finals sweep in 12 years, and Oscar Roberstson earned the one and only championship ring of his 14 year NBA career.
Fun facts: Robertson better 30 points per game six times in his career and shot 49% from the floor over 14 seasons.
He averaged better than 11 assists per game four times in his career en route to a lifetime average of 9.5 per game. His career scoring average of 25.7 points, 9.5 assists, and 7.5 rebounds exceeds the career accumulation of any guard in NBA history.
Robertson was the all time NCAA points per game scoring leader, 33.8, until his mark was topped by Pete Maravich, 44.2, in 1970. He is still ranked 3rd all time.
5. Kareem Abdul Jabbar & Magic Johnson To The Lakers
In 1979, the Lakers found themselves owning the 1st overall draft pick, which of course was one Earvin "Magic" Johnson, residual to former shooting guard Gail Goodrich's venture into free agency prior to the 1976-77 season.
Goodrich signed with the New Orleans Jazz, who in turn had to compensate the Lakers. New Orleans did so by giving Los Angeles three draft picks, including its first-round pick in 1979. When the Jazz (who moved to Utah in 1979) finished with the league's worst record in 1978-79, the Lakers found themselves holding the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft.
The trade for Jabbar and the extraordinary good fortune of being able to nab Magic Johnson in the draft propelled a new wave 1980's Laker dynasty that paved the way for eight trips to the NBA Finals and five league championships.
6. Julius Erving Is Sent To Philadelphia
In one of the most horrifying moves New York sports fans have ever had shoved down their collective throats, Nets owner Roy Boe sent Julius Erving ('Dr. J' as he was know to his adoring masses), to the Philadelphia 76ers on October 20th, 1976.
Boe was convinced Erving had knee problems and would never be able to survive the rigors of a full-on NBA season. In fact, he was certain the Doctor would require a surgeon before long, and the Nets owner convinced himself he wouldn't be the sucker paying the rehab bills. Erving may have been one of the five greatest players ever to pick up a basketball (at least to that point), with his gymnastic leaps and swooping dunks, but in Boe's mind that didn't render him indispensable.
On the other hand, Julius wanted a raise from his current salary of $400,000 to at least the $450,000 earned by new teammate Nate 'Tiny' Archibald. Boe wouldn't budge, pointing to the $1.9 million dollar American Basketball Association deal Erving had signed a couple of seasons earlier. Eventually, the impasse led to the trade to Philadelphia. This was a straight player for money deal that amounted to $3,000,000 for the Nets.
Although Erving did occasionally suffer from aches and pains due to his famous high flying, high impact style, he missed only a handful of games in a sixteen year professional career, the last ten of which brought exceeding joy to the Philadelphia 76er fan base.
Erving's highlight reel dunks, legendary battles with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are all part of NBA lore. He won his only NBA title in 1983 with a great Philly team that won 65 regular season games and featured teammates Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Darryl Dawkins, World B Free and Andrew Toney.
Few deals in league history have so greatly effected the fates of two franchises and the face of the NBA. While the sight of Julius Erving in a 76er uniform thrilled Philadelphia masses for a decade it was always a case of what could have been for basketball fans from all over New York, New Jersey and Long Island, the original home of Roy Boe's Nets.
7. Robert Parrish Joins Kevin McHale & Larry Bird In Boston
Robert Parrish, or 'The Chief', as he was later known in his Celtic years, played four relatively anonymous college seasons at Centenary, where his teams went a combined 87-21 and he averaged 21.6 points and 16.9 rebounds per game.
He was drafted in the first round of the 1976 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors who had won the NBA Championship in 1975 for Coach Al Attles off a hot run from forward Rick Barry and lightening quick guard Gus Johnson.
But the Warrior fortunes waned and in 1980 the Boston Celtics (who already had coming legend Larry Bird ready to start his second NBA season), traded the number one overall pick in the NBA draft to San Francisco for Parrish and the overall 3rd pick in that same draft.
The Celtics ended up choosing Kevin McHale. The Warriors then proceeded to select Joe Barry Carroll with the first pick, whose career eventually was shortened by injuries. This turned out to be one of the most lopsided deals in league history and with a newly formed front line of Parrish, Bird, McHale and Cedric Maxwell, the Boston Celtics immediately returned to the top echelon of NBA teams.
In the 14 years that followed the Celtics made six league final appearances and won three NBA titles.
In 1996 Robert Parrish was named one of the leagues 50 best players ever.
8. Shaq Heads To Los Angeles
Actually this was a free agent signing but we couldn't leave it off our list of moves that reshaped the NBA.
After four stellar years in Orlando, Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal was ready to remove himself from what he had come to consider the over-bearing spotlight of a smaller NBA city for the more wide open environs of star studded L.A..
He made the move in 1996, ready to reinvigorate a franchise that had not yet fully recovered from the loss of Magic Johnson to the HIV virus in November of 1991.
Success came in steps. The Lakers won 56 games during the 1996–97 season. O'Neal averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in his first season with Los Angeles; but missed over 30 games due to injury. The Lakers made the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in five games.
The following season, O'Neal averaged 28.3 points and 11.4 rebounds. He also led the league with a 58.4 field goal percentage, which would be the first of five consecutive seasons in which he did so. The Lakers finished the season 61–21, first in the Pacific Division, and were the second seed in the Western Conference during the 1998 NBA Playoffs. After defeating the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle SuperSonics in the first two rounds, the Lakers again fell to the Jazz, this time in a 4–0 sweep.
But in 1999 the the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as their new head coach, and the team's fortunes soon changed.
Using Jackson's triangle offense, O'Neal and teammate Kobe Bryant went on to enjoy tremendous success on the court, as they led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles (2000, 2001, and 2002). O'Neal was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and has the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history.
In the 2004 NBA Finals the Lakers fell to the rebuilt Detroit Pistons and O'Neal, tired of feuding with Kobe Bryant, unhappy over the imminent departure of head coach Phil Jackson, ended up demanding a trade, landing with the Miami Heat which happens to be the subject of the following slide.
9. Shaq Heads To Miami
On July 14, 2004, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round draft choice. Upon signing with the Heat, O'Neal promised the fans that he would bring a championship to Miami.
He claimed that one of the main reasons for wanting to be traded to Miami was because of their up-and-coming star, Dwyane Wade. With O'Neal on board, the new-look Heat surpassed expectations, claiming the best record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 22.9 ppg and 10.4 rpg, made his 12th consecutive All-Star Team, and made the All-NBA 1st Team. Despite being hobbled by a deep thigh bruise, O'Neal led the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals and a Game 7 against the defending champion Detroit Pistons, losing by a narrow margin. Afterwards, O'Neal and others criticized Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy for not calling enough plays for O'Neal.O'Neal also narrowly lost the 2004–05 MVP Award to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in NBA history.
In the second game of the 2005–06 season, O'Neal injured his right ankle and subsequently missed the following 18 games. Upon O'Neal's return, Van Gundy resigned, citing family reasons, and Pat Riley assumed head coach responsibilities.
Riley managed O'Neal's minutes during the rest of the season allow so Shaq O'Neal would be fresh come playoff time and in the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat would go on to win their first NBA Championship.
Led by both O'Neal and eventualNBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, the 2nd seeded Heat defeated the defending Eastern Conference Champion and top-seededDetroit Pistons in a rematch of the 2005 Conference Finals, and then defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals.
It was O'Neal's fourth title in seven seasons, and fulfilled his promise of delivering an NBA championship to Miami. At the victory celebration O'Neal declared another championship was on the way, saying, "We will see you again next year!"
While that never came to pass the championship earned in 2006 helped to further the NBA legend's reputation as a team first star whose first and foremost priority was to win basketball games.
10. Garnett Heads To Boston In a Tale Of Two Kevin's
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Boston: July 31st 2007 - The Boston Celtics announced today that they have acquired 10-time All-Star and 2004 MVP Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick (top three protected) and a return of Minnesota's conditional first round draft pick previously obtained in the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade. Minnesota also receives cash considerations in the deal.
"Kevin Garnett is a great player in our league, with a fierce and competitive spirit, who brings offensive scoring prowess and a defensive presence to our team," Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said. "The players we're trading to Minnesota have bright futures in the NBA and we wish them well."
Combined with the free agent signing of former Seattle Supersonic sharp shooter Ray Allen, the Garnett deal, facilitated by Timberwolves G.M. and former Celtic star, Kevin McHale, immediately brough Boston back back into the NBA limelight.
The team won 66 games and charged to an NBA finals where they defeated the Lakers in six games including a 131-92 pounding in series finale. Garnett averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds during the regular season and 20 points and 10 rebounds in the post season. He was also named the NBA Defensive Player Of The Year.
Garnett struggled with injuries in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 (when the Celtics were defeated in the NBA Finals by the Lakers), but healthy once again in 2010/2011 he and the Celts are off to an Eastern Conference best 35-11 start and look to be as solid a title contender as any team in the league.
11. The Lakers Steal Pau Gasol From The Memphis Grizzlies
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
One for good measure: Our eleventh deal boggled the minds of many an NBA follower, as on February 1st 2008 the Lakers received All Star center Pau Gasol and a second round pick for forward Kwame Brown, guard Javaris Crittenton, guard Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol and what would turn out to be late first round picks in 2008 and 2010.
The trade fortified the Lakers for virtually nothing in return, at least in an immediate sense, and with Gasol in the middle the team went on to win NBA titles in 2009 & 2010.
Marc Gasol has since gone on to become a pretty productive player for the Grizz, but is a free agent after the season where the Grizzlies will face intense competition to maintain his services.
And that's our list of NBA transactions that shook up the league and engendered championship results!
Stay tuned for what might occur prior to midnight, February 17, 2011.
That's it for today,