Cohen: Significant NBA Happenings in History That Many Have Forgotten or Ignored
Cohen's Analysis: Gail Goodrich was one of the greatest players to ever wear a Lakers uniform. He helped L.A. win the NBA title in 1972 and led the team in scoring in every season between 1971 and 1975.
If this was the 70’s, we could argue that Goodrich was the best Laker of all-time.
Today, however, it’s probably more rational to propose that the departure of Gail was the best thing that ever happened to the franchise.
At a time when sign-and-trades were far less conspicuous, Goodrich’s choice to join the New Orleans Jazz with a three-year contract allowed the Lakers to negotiate a deal that would send three first round draft picks to L.A.
While this all seemed like a failed experiment for the Lakers in the first two years after Goodrich’s exit (L.A. took Kenny Carr in 1977 and traded the pick it got from New Orleans in ’78), “magically” a goodbye to one Hall of Famer led to a welcome to another eventual Hall of Famer and five-time NBA champion.
After a coin flip between the Lakers and Bulls, who chose David Greenwood with the No. 2 pick, decided L.A. would choose first, Magic Johnson strut his way to Hollywood and engineered one of the greatest eras in Los Angeles sports history.
What's also fascinating is that the Jazz had Moses Malone's draft rights after the ABA-NBA merger, but because of their decision to sign Goodrich, the league allowed them to toss him back into the draft pool in exchange for a 1977 first round pick (that pick went to L.A. in Goodrich signing).
Injuries generally denied Gail from flourishing in New Orleans and as he retired, the Jazz decided to relocate to Salt Lake City.
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