Hungry ... Like the Wolves Fans
Posted Aug 1 2007 2:55PM
No, I feel your pain with this Kevin Garnett trade. As a Bucks fan, I can totally, totally empathize.
(And Celtics fans, you have to be excited that Danny Ainge finally channeled a little of Red Auerbach's moxie yesterday. Trading for Garnett is a shrewd move, and since 1987, the Celtics have been short on shrewdness. The Celtics won 16 NBA titles through a series of such transactions: trading for Bob Cousy, trading for the pick that became Bill Russell, drafting Larry Bird with a year left in his college eligibility, trading for Robert Parish, drafting Kevin McHale, signing Bill Walton to be a sixth man in 1986. The difference between those moves and this one is Red built for the long haul. This team probably has a three-to-five year window. Enjoy it while you can.)
You see, my squad traded an NBA MVP in his prime once. Of the four players the Bucks obtained in exchange for Kareem Adbul-Jabbar (and some center named Walt Wesley) in 1975, two of them -- Brian Winters and Junior Bridgeman -- had their numbers retired by Milwaukee. Nos. 32 and 2, to be exact.
Still, No. 32 and No. 2, could never add up to one certain No. 33. And of course, Kareem went on to win five more NBA titles, three more MVPs and set the NBA scoring record with the Lakers, but why, I mean really, why should we quibble over such details? Right?
So, Wolves fans, I understand. The next few weeks, months and possibly years will be tough. You'll experience growing pains and feel the hunger pangs for a hard-fought victory. It may not be as bad as this, but there will be struggles, especially in the murderous Wild Wild West.
Also, you may want to shy away from the history books. Of the 11 MVPs in NBA history that were traded from the teams with which they earned their MVPs (a list from which I excluded Garnett because he's new to this list), seven eventually have gone on to win NBA titles with their new teams. I'm no good at math, but that's a high percentage.
The percentage gets even better when you consider Dave Cowens was traded after he retired (and came out of retirement to play for the Bucks) and Hakeem Olajuwon was at the tail end of his career when he was traded to Toronto in 2001.
The only two who didn't win titles with their new teams? Charles Barkley, the 1993 MVP with Phoenix, famously didn't win a title with Houston, and after 10 1/2 seasons with the Sixers, Allen Iverson, the 2001 MVP, spent 50 games with the Nuggets last season.
Let's take a look at how these title-winning MVPs fared with their new squads, starting with the guy who won the most titles with his new team.
1. Milwaukee trades Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and C Walt Wesley for C Elmore Smith, G Brian Winters, F Junior Bridgeman and F Dave Meyers on June 16, 1975
As I noted above, Winters and Bridgeman had their numbers retired by the Bucks while Kareem (MVP: 1971, 1972, 1974) went on to win a fistful of rings, set scoring records and win three more league MVPs (1976, 1977, 1980). The Bucks also haven't been to a finals since Kareem left, and he was so good, he's still the franchise's leading scorer and rebounder. Speaking as a Bucks fan, this may be the most painful trade in NBA history.
2. San Francisco trades Wilt Chamberlain to Philadelphia for G Paul Neumann, C Connie Dierking, F Lee Shaffer and cash on Jan. 15, 1965; Philadelphia trades Wilt Chamberlain to Los Angeles for F Jerry Chambers, G Archie Clark and C Darrall Imhoff
Only someone larger than life such as Wilt could win two titles with his new teams. Wilt won three MVPs in a row with Philly (1966-68; he had won an MVP with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1960) and one title in 1967. He would go on to win another title with the Lakers in 1972.
3. Cincinnati trades Oscar Robertson to Milwaukee for G Flynn Robinson and F Charlie Paulk on April 21, 1970
Kareem gets a Hall of Fame point guard to feed him the ball while Oscar, the 1964 MVP, finally gets his ring in 1971 as the Bucks become the fastest expansion franchise to win a title -- a mere three years. Oh, happy days.
4. Houston trades Moses Malone to Philadelphia for F/C Caldwell Jones and 1983 first round choice on Sept. 15, 1982
Moses won his first MVP with the Rockets in 1979, led them to the NBA Finals in 1981 and won another MVP in 1982. But Moses wanted out and signed a free agent contract with the Sixers. The Rockets decided to match, and in order to get something for Moses' departure, traded him to the Sixers, who promptly went on to win the 1983 title. Fo, fi, fo.
5. Los Angeles Lakers trade Shaquille O'Neal to Miami for F Lamar Odom, F Brian Grant, F Caron Butler and a first- and second-round pick on July 14, 2004.
It took Shaq two seasons (and with a little help from Dwyane Wade) to get Miami its first title in 2006.
6. Bob McAdoo (too many trades to count)
McAdoo, who nabbed his MVP in 1975 with the Buffalo Braves when he lead the league in scoring with 34.5 points per game, was traded or waived(!) four times before he was traded by New Jersey to the Lakers in December of '81. McAdoo was a key reserve on the Lakers' '82 and '85 championship teams.
7. Bill Walton (too many trades and injuries to list)
Walton, who was the NBA MVP 1978, one year after he led the Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, suffered through many injuries in his career. After leaving Portland for the then San Diego Clippers, where he played 169 games in six seasons, the Clippers traded Big Red to Boston on Sept. 6, 1985. He went on to play 80 games as a reserve, and the Celtics went on to win their last of 16 titles (so far).
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