The Lopsided Moves that made Champions
I know the story. People dislike the Miami Heat for the way they came together, all being Free Agents rather than being traded or drafted to a team. Never had happened before, was against the grain, and we had a nice waste of an hour in the horror which was "The Decision". Why can't things be like the good old days, when you just stuck it out and let the chips fall where they may? Well, let me tell you guys, the deck was STACKED. Always has been. Since the days of the merger, lopsided moves have won championships.
What I am going to do here might warp your perspective on things. It might make you hate me. But, all of these trades are true, and they all are a little lopsided. Indeed, there was fantastic executive deal making, and their was no collusion between players, but it seems as though these teams maybe get a little too much credit for "loyalty" and "growing as a team", than one might think if they knew the entire story. I am going to show you, in fact, the lopsided deals and trades that were at the core of the dynasties of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. To me, it does not make them any less of players in my mind, but you will at least get to see that the way they built through the draft was more like a train robbery rather than the nursery of development and by the book management that many people seem to think of when they think of those teams.
Lakers-Magic Johnson era:
How did the Lakers get Magic Johnson? Ever ask yourself that? They had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the best player in the league. He had won 5 MVP's by that point in his career and played 9 more seasons with Magic. Well, they got it through a lopsided trade! This trade was:
August 5, 1976: Traded by the New Orleans Jazz (as a 1979 1st round draft pick) with a 1977 1st round draft pick (Kenny Carr), a 1978 1st round draft pick (Freeman Williams) and a 1980 2nd round draft pick (Sam Worthen) to the Los Angeles Lakers for a 1977 2nd round draft pick (Essie Hollis) and a 1978 1st round draft pick (Jack Givens). This exchange was arranged as compensation for Utah signing veteran free agent Gail Goodrich on 1976-07-19.
See the 1979 first round pick? That was the first in the draft. They chose Magic Johnson. Gail Goodrich, you ask? Well, Gail played 3 pretty forgettable years for the Jazz, the last of course being on a team that finished with a poor enough record to give up the first pick. He retired before Magic even entered the league.
But, wait, there's more! James Worthy was the first pick in the draft, right? Well, how did a Laker team that was winning and competing for championships get another #1 pick in the draft? Well, hold onto your hats Cleveland:
Yeah, that was another doozy. Too top it off, they traded for another former #2 pick in the draft, James McAdoo. He was apparently only good for a second round pick, a 6'2 guard named Kevin Williams. This was a one time NBA MVP and 3 time league leading scorer. So, the Lakers built from the draft, true, but it was mainly other guys drafts for people on their last legs. These Lakers are a poster boy for not trading first round picks too deep into the future.
Bird era Celtics:
Larry Legend was a pretty interesting grab himself, as the Celtics actually used THERE OWN PICK TO CHOOSE HIM! OOOOOH! But, sarcasm aside, they did choose Larry in the era where it was still cool for players to enter the draft and go back to school. This is no longer the case (even if you do not sign with an agent) do not ask me why, but it is what it is. So, Larry Bird, 6th pick in the 1978 draft. The amazing Larry takes the team from 29-53 too 61-21. He is the unquestioned leader, but has help from Tiny Archibald (not a bad little PG), Cedric Maxwell (who goes onto win Finals MVP in 1980-81 over Larry Bird), Dave Cowens (a one time MVP and dynamic player/winner of multiple championships) and they even had the services of Pete Maravich for 26 games (he retired that year).
Well, Larry is pretty amazing, but his team gets bounced 4-1 by a stacked Philly team. Plus, Cowens AND Maravich retire :(. What are the Celtics to do? How about, this, which they had done earlier that year:
September 6, 1979: Bob McAdoo traded by the Boston Celtics to the Detroit Pistons for a 1980 1st round draft pick (Rickey Brown) and a 1980 1st round draft pick (Joe Barry Carroll). This exchange was arranged as compensation for Boston signing veteran free agent M.L. Carr on 1979-07-24.
So, the Celtics got a lot of good things out of Bob McAdoo as well, and he didn't even have to play for them! Bob played 74 games in two years for the Pistons, and ML Carr was a nice 10 ppg scorer for the Celts. Still, what else did they get after a 61-21 season? The #1 pick in the 1980 draft! Well, you guys are probably like, "well, so what, they chose Joe Barry Carroll!". Well, they traded Rickey Brown and Joe "Barely Cares" for this:
- Rickey Brown traded by the Boston Celtics (as a 1980 1st round draft pick, 13th pick) with a 1980 1st round draft pick (Joe Barry Carroll, #1 pick in the draft) to the Golden State Warriors for Robert Parish and a 1980 1st round draft pick (Kevin McHale, #3 pick in the draft).
Not only did Kevin McHale turn out to be WAY better than Joe Barry Carroll, but so did Robert Parish. The Chief (Parish for those who do not know), had come off consecutive years of averaging 17 and 11. Do that now, they will call you the second best Center in the league! Kevin McHale was a long, wiry PF who could block shots and had post moves that still make a big man coach drool. Parish made 9 All-Star games, McHale made 7 and the front line won 3 titles. Joe Barry Carroll made one All-Star Game and has a .009 chance of making the Hall of Fame according to basketball-reference.com.
The way Michael Jordan won is what separates him in the minds of many from other players. He was always a fantastic player, his scoring average is still tops All-Time and he was incredibly individually dominant. He wanted the ball in the clutch, he rarely did anything other than exceed or meet your expectations, and there was 0 doubt of who the MVP was in each Finals victory. Michael won 5 MVP awards, and I believe he could have won as many as 9-10, but that is besides the point. The point is, Michael Jordan had help from a very lopsided trade. It was:
June 22, 1987: Traded by the Seattle SuperSonics with a 1989 1st round draft pick (Jeff Sanders) to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice, a 1988 2nd round draft pick (Sylvester Gray) and a 1989 1st round draft pick (B.J. Armstrong).
For those having trouble, it was Scottie Pippen (the 5th pick in the 1987 draft) and Jeff Sanders (who later became the 20th pick in the 1989 draft) for Olden Polynice (the 8th pick in the 1987 draft) a 1988 2nd round pick (Sylvester Sanders) and a 1989 1st round pick (which layer became BJ Armstrong). So how did Chicago get BJ Armstrong than? They traded Brad Sellers, a tooth pick Center who played a whopping 45 games for the Sonics, for their 1989 pick back. Don't we all wish it were that easy? Look at the 1989 draft and you will see the Bulls got their pick back.
Scottie Pippen was a relative unknown, a skinny 6'8 forward from a small school. Still, he was the 5th pick in the draft. So, why would the Sonics basically trade the 5th pick, for the 10th, a second round pick a year later, and than basically a pick swap two years later? Huh? Am I missing something? Than, too top it off, they trade the 1989 first round pick BACK to the Bulls? Am I playing NBA 2k1987? What the heck were they thinking?
Olden averaged 7.8 ppg and 6.7 rpg for his career, with less than an assist per game. Scottie, a player 4 inches shorter than him, averaged 16.1, 6.4 and 5.2 apg (major for a forward as a career average). Now, Michael could have maybe made Olden more than what he was, who knows. But, Olden was nowhere near Scotties league, and that trade is mega lopsided.
But, wait, how did they get the 8th pick in the draft? They had the 8th and 10th picks in the draft that year, actually. The 10th was Horace Grant, who turned into a nice little player. The 8th, the one they smartly traded away for the second part of Jordan and Pippen, was gotten this way:
June 22, 1987: Drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the 1st round (8th pick) of the 1987 NBA Draft.
So, the Knicks got a first round pick from the Nuggets for Darrell Walker, who was a pretty good player. The Knicks than trade that pick for a 28 year old Center named Jawann Oldham, who had averaged 7.8 and 5.9 the year before. This team had Patrick Ewing mind you, why would they need a Center? Jawan played 44 games for the Knicks, than was traded to the Kings for a second round pick named Fennis Dembo. He went on to play 64 more games before retiring in 1991.
That means that Chicago made two pretty lopsided trades instead of just one to maintain their future front court, much like the Celtics. They made a pretty shrewd move to acquire a Center for their championships by trading Jordan enforcer and fantastic rebounder Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright. But, remember how they got Dennis Rodman:
Yep, straight up for Will Perdue. Dennis was not Michael or Scottie, but his defense and rebounding helped win those second 3 championships for his Airness. I am sure Michael Jordan gave him a ringing endorsement for the Hall-of-Fame. Dennis was coming off of a season where he had just averaged 7.1 and 16.8 rebounds per game! Yes, 16.8! To put in perspective, averaged 4.3 less per game. He averaged 29.7% of his teams rebounds, this a team with David Robinson at Center, no rebounding slouch himself. No one else was in 9.8% of him. So, just saying, they came out looking pretty good.
Of the players I went over, all of whom played pretty big roles in winning 14 NBA titles since 1980, here is the breakdown:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Traded to the Lakers, a trade he basically forced Milwaukee into.
Magic Johnson: Drafted by the Lakers as part of a trade that screwed the New Orleans (later to be Utah) Jazz. 47-35 team with the first pick in the draft.
James Worthy: Drafted by the Lakers in a deal that screwed the Cleveland Cavaliers. A team that had finished 57-25 AND won the NBA Championship gets the first pick in the draft.
Larry Bird: Drafted 6th by the Celtics. No trade involved.
Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish: Traded for by a pick that the Celtics got in a complete screwing of the Detroit Pistons, and one of their own original picks.
I left out that they had the 2nd pick in the 1986 Draft. They chose Len Bias, who tragically died in a cocaine overdose. Nonethless, they were 67-15 and had won the championship that summer. They had traded Gerald Henderson two years earlier for the Supersonics first round pick. Gerald had a couple thousand point seasons, but nothing worthy of the 2nd pick in the draft. We could only imagine how amazing the Celtics would have been had Len Bias been able to play for them. Could have been a potential dynasty that would have given the Bulls trouble.
Michael Jordan: Original pick.
Scottie Pippen: Screwed Seattle.
BJ Armstrong: Seconds on Seattle
Horace Grant: Original pick
Dennis Rodman: Straight up for Will Perdue
Toni Kukoc: Did not mention him, but brilliant original second round pick that made them incredible come Jordan's second 3-peat.
So, what have we learned here? Odds are, nothing I can say will change a persons mind about how the Heat came together, I do not expect it too. But, too act like someone who made incredibly shrewd and smart business moves (take Pat Riley, over the 2010 season and summer) is worse than someone who made incredibly shrewd business moves (take Red Auerbach, Jerry West and the Jerry's in Chicago) to acquire teams just makes little sense to me. Yes, the players were younger and got to develop together, but it was not like luck had nothing to do with it. If Riles had never traded Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and Caron Butler for Shaq, does Dwyane Wade have a ring? If Kupchak never trades Kwame Brown and loose change for Pau Gasol, does Kobe have two more? Say what you want about wanting Marc Gasol over Pau, but the odds are that they might not have been as good without Pau putting up huge contributions to their Finals victories. Think that Pau Gasol struggled guarding Dirk? Give Marc a try.
This is just an outline that there is much more that goes into the makings of a championship team than player loyalty and growth. You need to keep the pieces that work and try to fix or get rid of the ones that either don't or are not getting you closer to your destination. Show me a team that is "loyal" to their players, and I will probably show you a team that never won a title. Dirk is a rarity, and I already pointed out today that he went through a bunch of different teammates to get the job done. It is sad that we can not have things more like yesteryear when loyalty was more important than contracts, but with as many teams as there are, it is very hard to develop parity and not have certain teams near the top. A hard cap will probably make what the Heat did impossible, atleast much more unlikely, but I do not think that "Super Teams" are a new concept. Maybe it happened in a new formula, but it was a formula built on doing trades that you probably would not be able to even get away with in video games.
Some folks need to get over how the Heat's Big 3 came together as they did it within the existing NBA free agency rules.
Pat Riley played BC like a fiddle (in the JO'Neal deal) to get the cap space needed in order to lure away CB as a free agent in a lopsided S&T deal in favor of Miami especially since BC has used the 14 Million dollar CB TPE to acquire AAjinca, JBayless, JJohnson & won't be using the remaining 9 million dolllars of the CB TPE to acquire any more roster talent.
As well NBA GMs make one sided trades all the time w/o notice on a whim.
Alright, let me get my side of the story out of the way, I dont care how the heat assembled(celtics came togather and I thought that was cool), I hated their stupid comments, decision special, coughing joke, arrogance. Now am i hoping they never win a title? NO I like Dwade as a player, lebron is an amazing talent, Bosh is a good 2nd or 3rd option, they will get their moment and ring( 2nd in dwades case).
I will will continue to vote against them though because im a nets fan and thats the only team I will truely be happy that wins a title(even though its unlikely anytime soon), I voted for the mavs just for J. Kidd(a former net), but every other year I would just pick one of the tams in the finals and guess they would win, I really wouldnt care if I was right or wrong.
Pat Riley is a genius, for putting this team togather and he made a whole new defination to the words " bandwagon fans", Everyone was voting for the heat, and when they lost, those same people turned thier backs on them and said they sucked. I know your trying to make a point about us hating the heat, but whats worse me voting against the heat because I stick my team(the nets, and wish our former great players the best), or a fan that will love you one minute and when you need support, stab you right in the back. If I was a heat fan, I would have been one since i started watching basketball, through the goods and the bad, its just like life you go through highs and lows, but you cant go with one without the other.
I completely agree. Many of these trades/acquisitions have been pretty lopsided. I think the difference with the heat forming was that lebron and bosh basically both chose to sign with miami rather than be traded for or any other form of trade. but i've always known the lakers to be able to pull those kinds of moves off. the dennis rodman acquisition to chicago i had no idea about and thats pretty lopsided. the scottie pippen pick seemed much more harmless than a lot of these others as he wasnt as sexy a pick as was magic johnson and wasnt highly touted like those guys were during his collegiate career.
all in all, im still against this whole heat thing because im old school, and i feel like the best players should play each other and one beat the other, leaving some incredible hardwood classics in its wake. bosh with either wade or lebron wouldnt have bothered me as i think bosh is a sidekick guy anyway but lebron and wade on the same team is just dumb to me. sorry
and also, the formation of the 'original' big 3 so to speak was with all 3 of those players PAST their prime, all of them had been to the conference finals at least once and could not pull through with the teams they had, so they teamed together hoping that their collective efforts and team chemistry would pull them through and it did. the heat on the other hand have all of their big 3 IN THEIR PRIME. wade stayed so im not entirely upset with him but he definitely gave lebron a sales pitch to come to miami. bosh as i said i wouldnt have been mad at if he were to pair with lebron or wade only. mostly im upset with lebron because as i think was evidenced to a certain extent, he either gave up, or just doesnt have the killer instinct in him to step up in big situations and its been 2 playoffs in a row where hes done this. no discredit to dallas for doing their best to contain him but lebron has the tools to be better than being limited because of a double team. players of his 'caliber' consistently beat double teams and for anyone to say dallas was doubling him is ridiculous. lebron needs to grow a pair of substantial testicles and get it done if he is what he and everyone else says he is.
Would you consider adding this trade to your list?:
St. Louis Hawks receiving = Ed Macauley & Cliff Hagan
Boston Celtics recieving = The Hawks #2 pick in that years draft named.......BILL RUSSELL!!
While the Hawks did win the 1958 NBA title, well, do we even need to start with what Russell did with the Celtics?? Just a thought.
The Scottie Pippen trade was indeed not as bad as some of the other trades, especially at the time the trade finally took fruition.
@ASDF22: First of all, you said voted for a team rather than rooted or cheered for, which I have heard before, but never the less find amusing.
However, I do not think I was telling people they needed to "vote" for the Heat. You can cheer for or hate whoever you want to. The Nets have never won a championship and have been a long cursed franchise, and I wish them the best. They traded Dr. J and have just generally had a number of things happen to them that have lead to them never even winning a game in the Finals. As a matter of fact, no team has lost more games than the Nets since the NBA/ABA merger other than the Clippers. They won 2 ABA titles (with a man named Julius Erving leading the charge), but the NBA has not been good to them. They sold Dr. J's rights when they merged with the NBA, and is the rest is a history of mostly futility.
Nonetheless, cheer for them proudly! I want whoever likes whatever team to be a fan of them. I just also would like people to realize a bit of NBA history that points out that teams, "built the right way", were in a way built by stealing some players in a fashion incredibly similar to the Heat. These players the teams built around were acquired in incredibly lopsided deals, to the point where the main players involved (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan), had no real reason to look for other teams.
So, just wanted to give people a perspective on why Miami's formation may not be as incredibly different a formula as one would think. I think a lot of people probably did not know about these trades, and that they just thought the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls built through the draft and the rest was just history. You have incredibly valid reasons for not liking the Heat, they can come off as arrogant and awful at times. Than again, Magic, Larry and Mike did not have the camera in front of their face as much catching all the stuff they did and said. They were incredibly arrogant and borderline psychotic competitors. Honestly, they all are. People did and said terrible things back than, ESPN was just not on every single television. There was not really internet presence, no youtube, every didn't have a phone on their camera. See, just giving perspective.
Cast your votes for whomever you want, and hate the Heat for being &$#%#&@!. But, if you hate the Heat for forming a team the way they did, it might be a bit off base. These guys started off their careers in better situations, with fewer teams and some really sweet deals that worked out in their favor. When Magic, Larry and Michael came into the league, their were fewer teams to thin the talent pool. When the NBA gained expansion teams, this if anything made it better for a Bulls team that did not have to give up much and than had a few other teams to take talented players from going to a major competitor. Hate them if you would like too, that is fine, but I think if people hate the formula of how they formed their team, they could indeed be off base. Just wanted to give perspective, not telling anyone who to cheer for.
@Mr. Carter's House: Very aware of the history of trades that made the Celtics the consummate winning franchise in basketball. Just wanted to give perspective to a time after the NBA/ABA merger, when Free Agency started to become more of a factor. Definitely was more difficult to build Super Teams without trading, though at the same time you had an ability to choose a person that lived near you (territorial picks, they were called. Wilt Chamberlain was one by Philly). I wanted to give the perspective of every team that had won since 1980, but it would have taken too long. Maybe some other time.
I like your nickname. Reminds me of the Biggie verse in this song:
"Introducing the black bastahd from Bedrock, guaranteed to make ya head rock......"
thanx for a very good post ive always marveled over how the celts put togehter bird mchale and parrish
You my friend, are my second favorite writer. (Behind Bill Simmons, no offense) I love to read and reading basketball articles even more, but most articles put me to sleep. Sometimes they are just too long, or have no direction. But your post was incredibly informative. We became smarter because we read this thread. Can you write one about the impending lockout situation, I would love to know a bit more about that.
Aamir543, glad to be mentioned with Bill Simmons, even if I think he is kind of a homer, he is a great writer and I respect him a lot. I do not read him incredibly often, but he has had some great articles and makes incredibly poignant connections on the regular. I take no offense, just glad to have readers who like what I write.
I will definitely try to make one about the lockout, what in particular would you like to know about it?
By this I mean:
- Soft cap vs. Hard cap?
- The possibility of there being an amnesty clause, which would let teams cut a contract?
- What it would mean for future NBA rookies?
- How it will effect current players under contract?
Just wondering, I could probably cover a lot, as always. I try to educate and maybe give a different perspective, that I feel gets left out in all of the hype. I actually find it hilarious that ESPN constantly talks garbage about "the Decision", when they made the decision to air it. Well, can't stop hypocrisy all of the time.
@Bedrock23 you should get points for your picture alone! Nice man.
My comment was based more towards Pro1, not you. i dont why i put voted instead rooted for haha that was a dumb error, I completely understood your whole perspective, I never said it was wrong for them to join up, I actually stated Pat Riley was a genius for assembling them, and stated thier time will come, I was also explaining the bandwagon fans who rooted for the heat early on but then trash talked them later when they lost in the finals, you know that is not right, I always try to put examples in my explainations usually always inculding the nets(my favorite team) as a prime example, it was supposed to be an example of if your rooting for a team stick with them, dont love them when their winning and hate them when their losing. nonetheless, i think my comment was either taken out of context, or maybe i didnt do a good job at wording it properly, but I did understand your intake on the whole formations of great teams, and trying to show people the heat aren't the only ones doing it.
Glad to get your perspective, just felt like I had maybe been too preachy. I try not to be, but I am pretty passionate about my views usually and tend to try and provide as much evidence as possible to prove a point (in basketball much more than other things). I also try to speak the truth and look at things from an unbiased perspective. Thanks for the input, man.
its cool man, you being passionate is the reason you are one of the best posters on this site, I always enjoy reading your post, I learn something new everytime i read one. Keep up the good work
And to answer your question MikeyV it would be nice if the thread would discuss the broader topics, more like what needs to get done to reach an agreement, and what is the stance of both sides on the specific detail. Thanks man, I appreciate it.
In most of these trades there are veterans for draft picks or picks for picks.
Only Rodman for Purdue was established guy for established guy.
Pop really got crazy with Rodman and propably took any deal that was there.
Jackson was willing to take that gamble and it paid off.
How did the Bulls get Harper?
Maybe you could look into the later Lakers 2 three-peat teams,because there are bound to be lop-sided deals to be involved with those.
@MikeyV Love the read as always my man
One point i wanted to hit on being a hardcore Jazz fan, and being part of our 90's runs of coming up short, was that i don't think loyalty is neccisarily a bad thing, as the Jazz franchise has pretty much stuck with this from their existence. Granted as you mentioned that teams with this mindset aren't neccisarly all the time going to be champions, which was the case with this squad. However I think in their instance, which is a great example as to why their needs to be changes in the way the current system operates, is that they made countless efforts to get talent on their championship teams, such as just to name a couple Derek Harper, and Rony Seikly. Both of whom had completed trades in place with the possibility of adding to an already outstanding core with Stockton,Russell,Malone and Hornacek. However, as many small market teams face, neither of these players wanted to come to Utah, with Derek Harper so famously saying "you go play in utah", and Seikly never showing up for his physical cause he never wanted to play here. The fact players like these in a business can decide against relocation bothers me. If you are making a salary for 5-12 million a year you should relocate to business needs, it happens in the real world if you don't like it you find another company to work for that will pay you the same, simple as that.
Also I wanted to make another shoutout to the San Antonio Spurs orginization, as I've said in previous posts whom i think house some of the most underated, undervalued, and most brilliant minds in basketball. From Peter holt, RC buford and most importantly Pop. These guys put together a championship squad who you may not refer to as a "dynasty", built from the ground up behind the best PF of all time. Parker with the 28th pick and Ginobili with the 57th pick, combine with veteran players out of their prime giving you 10-20 minutes a night. The way these guys housed unproven talent, and players other GM's and scouts probably saw as washed up and rung up 4 titles with is about as impressive as anything I've ever seen in forming a championship caliber squad.