Trade is as natural an activity in the NBA as the game itself. Every year the big teams look to trade for a new superstar to join their roster. However, there are always big risks involved and throughout history many teams have had terrible blunders that have gone down in history. Today we will review some of them.
Bill Russell, St. Louis Hawks:
In 1956, The Hawks drafted Russell (a black player) and traded him to the Celtics for Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley, who were both Caucasian. Even though Russell had performed spectacularly in college (winning 28 of 29 games), St. Louis did not want him. For years there has been speculation about the reasons for that peculiar decision and, of course, there has been talk about the possibility that the Missouri team rejected the center because of his skin color. Time would prove that this was a blunder. In the years that followed, the Hawks would be a mediocre team, while Russell was the leader of a Celtic dynasty that won eight straight titles and 11 in his era.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks:
In 1975, the Milwaukee Bucks made one of the most absurd decisions in NBA history. They traded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers and did not even get an All-Star back. Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to their first and only championship in 1970-71 and to their last NBA Finals appearance in 1973-74. In Los Angeles, Kareem would have a glorious time, winning five NBA rings, while the Bucks would go into decline.
Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers:
The Sixers are also part of this dishonorable list. In 1968, they traded one of the best in the history of the sport: Wilt Chamberlain. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were letting go of a legend who would provide the Lakers with their first-ever championship.
Kobe Bryant, Charlotte Hornets:
The Hornets selected Kobe Bryant in the 1996 NBA draft. Rather than relying on that young high school player, they traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant would go on to become an NBA legend, while the Hornets remained stagnant as an irrelevant team.
Elvin Hayes, Houston Rockets:
In 1972, the Houston Rockets traded the Hall of Fame-bound Elvin Hayes to the Baltimore Bullets or Jack Marin. Hayes would lead the Bullets to an NBA title and two Finals appearances.
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