Things change fast in the NBA. One minute fans and an organization adore a superstar, and the next, said superstar, is gone.
There are many reasons why a superstar splits from an organization. Often its investment related; the organization and the star unable to come to terms on a contractual amount that fits both parties' needs.
If not money related, the split occurs because of the player’s health, the player’s role on the floor, whether he or she is in the organization’s future. Many times, the split has nothing to do with their relationship souring. It’s simply a change of plans; the organization looking down the road and seeing the need to rebuild, start over, try winning with a different franchise face.
But for fans, this kind of thing is difficult. We wear the jerseys, hang the posters, brag, grow nostalgic, and contain a certain amount of pride around our favorite team, and that team’s building blocks…its players.
Of course, these types of differences among player and organization, aren’t always copacetic. And as result, the chronic rumors turn into resentment or a lack of trust. Before you know it, the he said-she said plays out in the public eye, like a messy scene in a reality television show. The split occurs, and a rivalry’s born.
15 Ray Allen: From the Milwaukee Bucks to the Seattle Supersonics (2003)
Ray Allen had an incredible career, spanning eighteen seasons with four different teams. During that time, he set the league record for three-point field goals made (2,973) and played in ten All-Star games. He’s considered, arguably, the greatest shooter ever, and left fans with numerous clutch memories to draw upon.
His longest tenure was with his first team, the Milwaukee Bucks. For seven-and-a-half years, Allen, aka “Jesus Shuttlesworth,” wowed Milwaukee fans with his efficient and productive range and underrated but explosive athleticism.
Allen was coming off three straight seasons of a plus-twenty point scoring average and having been to three straight All-Star games. He was one of the top guards in the league, looking to lead Milwaukee as the franchise guy for a long time.
Then suddenly, in 2003, around the All-Star break, Milwaukee shipped Jesus to Seattle for an aging Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. It was an odd trade. After all, Milwaukee had been to the Eastern Conference finals just a year and a half prior. They’d later go on to lose Payton to free agency that Summer.
Rumor is the team wanted to make room for Michael Redd. This upset Allen, causing a fissure, and he and the organization decided to go a different direction.
One is left to assume by the sudden nature of the trade, Allen forced his way out.
14 Shaquille O’Neal: From the L.A. Lakers to the Miami Heat (2004)
It was arguably the greatest most polarizing public split between two superstars in league history, when Shaquille O’Neal forced his way out of Los Angeles, for the white sand beaches of Miami.
For quite some time, O’Neal had made it public that he didn’t like Kobe Bryant’s attitude, nor his me-first volume shooting. The two had done something pretty-special, despite their differences, winning three consecutive championships. During that time, Bryant had emerged as an elite scorer, often compared to Michael Jordan, and Shaq, put a stamp on his already giant legacy.
But when the Lakers melted against the underdog Detroit Pistons, in the 2004 NBA Finals, things took a turn for the worst. Shaq demanded the ball more and respect, and Kobe was unwilling. It’d become clear the Lakers had one too many alphas.
That Summer, Shaq forced his way to Miami for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a first round pick. Shaq delivered, leading the Heat to a title in 2006.
13 Dennis Rodman: From the San Antonio Spurs to the Chicago Bulls (1995)
I’m not sure who wanted out: The Spurs or Rodman. But I can assert, both. In Rodman’s two years with San Antonio, the long-adored Piston dirty worker, rebounded as expected, but his health was a chronic concern. In 1994, he missed 33 games and looked to be on the down turn of his career. For Rodman, the fair assumption is the quiet conservative nature of San Antonio didn’t fit his lavish lifestyle. He felt out of place, and would welcome the right trade elsewhere.
The result was arguably the most lopsided trade in league history.
In the Summer of 1995, the Spurs dealt Rodman and his four rebounding titles to the Bulls for Will Perdue. Let me repeat: Dennis Rodman for the very average, Will Perdue.
The rest was history. Rodman went on to win three more rebounding titles in Chicago – leading alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the team to three straight championships.
Rodman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.
12 Alonzo Mourning: From the Charlotte Hornets to the Miami Heat (1995)
Before Alonzo Mourning went on to become one of the greatest players in Miami Heat history, he played alongside Larry Johnson for the Hornets. The two created one of the most dynamic duos in league history, making for constant highlight reels and an up and coming Charlotte organization.
Mourning had spent 2 ½ years in Charlotte, quickly becoming the franchise face. But that was all it took for Zo, to realize he didn’t want to sign a long-term deal and play out his prime years with the team.
Some would simply argue, it was money, which it was. The Hornets having already locked up Larry Johnson to a mega deal, couldn’t pay Zo max dollars. But we all know of, and have seen players, take pay cuts to stay with teams they adore. It is clear Zo didn’t love it in Charlotte, and was unwilling to take a pay cut. The result was him being shipped to Miami for Glen Rice, two role players and a first round pick.
11 Latrell Sprewell: From the Golden State Warriors to the New York Knicks (1999)
Before choking coach P.J. Carlesimo, Latrell Sprewell was one of the most dynamic guards in hoops. I’ll repeat myself: Before choking coach P.J.Carlesimo, Latrell Sprewell was one of the most dynamic guard in hoops. The choking incident cost Spree 68-games without pay, and a ticket out of the Bay Area.
The disgruntled guard suddenly found himself in New York, where he teamed with the likes of Larry Johnson and Allan Houston. He thrived. And the trio led the Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999 as an eight seed.
10 Dwight Howard: From the Orlando Magic to the L.A. Lakers (2012)
For most of Howard’s time in Orlando, the seven-foot long-armed defensive juggernaut, was a happy go-lucky, team oriented guy, with a flowering legacy. After all, he’d just led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009, and had been awarded four straight All-NBA first team selections. He was bar none the most dominant center in the game, drawing comparisons to the likes of former great, Bill Russell.
It was like suddenly Howard flipped the script. A pending free agent in 2013, Howard toyed with the media. His constant showboating and off-putting demeanor angered Magic upper management and coach, Stan Van Gundy. One day he wanted to re-sign and the next day he didn’t. It all became too much. Howard forced his way out with passive aggressive jabs.
His trade the Summer of 2012 to the Lakers made waves. Teaming alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, the Lakers looked prime for another dynasty. We all know how it ended. Nash hurt. An early exit in the Playoffs. Kobe Bryant and Howard feuding. That off-season, D-12 said goodbye to the Lakers and signed with Houston. How surprising...
9 Vince Carter: From the Toronto Raptors to the New Jersey Nets (2004)
I remember the trade came out of nowhere. Yes, Carter’s character had taken a series of hits. His leadership was in question, as well as his drive. He’d even been in an altercation with his coach, Sam Mitchell. The once adored, high-flying superstar swing, otherwise known as VC or Air Canada, had quicken fallen out of favor.
The result was ugly. Carter looked run down, disinterested to the tune of a career low 15.3 points per game. He was disgruntled, unhappy and wanted out, and the Raptors granted him his wish, by sending him to the Nets in 2004, for an old Alonzo Mourning, two role players and two draft picks.
VC was clearly revitalized, averaging 27.5 points for the Nets the rest of the year.
8 Carmelo Anthony: From the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks (2011)
It’s hard to fathom the trade sending Melo to the Knicks happened seven years ago! Time flies. And yet here we all are now, waiting to see what the Knicks do with their star swingman, whose been swirling around trade rumors for the last year.
Carmelo came into the NBA a star in the making. He had won a national title with the Syracuse Orange in 2003. Melo had the makeup physically and intangible gifts to be an impact scorer right away, and boy was he. In seven and a half years with the Nuggets, Melo went to four All-Star games, averaging 24.8 points to solidify himself as one of the purist scorers this league had ever seen. In fact, he led the Nuggets to the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Things seemed to be looking up with Denver on the verge of breaking through into title contention.
But if we’re honest with ourselves, Denver was never the fit for a player like Carmelo. He craved a larger market, one that’d lend itself to his growing brand and his desired lifestyle. So, amid the All-Star break in 2011, the Nuggets granted him his wish, sending the star forward to the New York Knicks in a three-team deal.
Melo, has since been to six more All-Star games with New York, averaging 25.0 points per game.
7 Chris Webber: From the Golden State Warriors to the Washington Bullets (1994)
C-Webb was magic. The big man was quick, could dribble, and finish like no other. Remember that infamous move he made on Barkley before dunking on his grill?
Webber brought a certain toughness to the Warriors. Teaming alongside Latrell Sprewell, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway, he topped a formidable unit with a bright future.
But continual feuds with coach Don Nelson, over his rightful position (Webber believing himself a stretch-four), forced Webber to exercise an escape clause in his contract and demand a trade.
The Rookie of the Year landed in Washington in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three first round picks.
6 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: From the Milwaukee Bucks to the L.A. Lakers (1975)
Formerly Lew Alcindor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demanded a trade as early as 1974, from the Milwaukee Buck. The legendary center was upset over the team’s Finals loss to the Celtics. He’d won one ring alongside Oscar Robertson in 1971, three MVPs and averaged thirty points per game over six years. He was by all measurements, the best player in the NBA.
But he wanted more. A larger franchise. A bigger market. A city that’d allow him to become not only an NBA superstar, but a star in every way. He wanted more rings. And the trade he demanded was given to him.
In 1975, the Milwaukee Bucks traded Jabbar to the L.A. Lakers, in exchange for a handful of role guys. The move altered league history dramatically. The Bucks haven’t been back to the Finals since Jabbar’s time there. Jabbar went on to win five more rings and three MVPs with the Lakers.
5 Wilt Chamberlain: From the Philadelphia 76ers to the L.A. Lakers (1968)
Ah, the Lakers rear their head again. It’s the bright sun, the sands, the city and its electric Hollywood flare. When Wilt Chamberlain demanded a trade, much like Jabbar did, he was seeking all the above things.
Two things pushed Chamberlain out of Philadelphia. The most dominant center this league had ever seen, once averaging fifty-points per game for an entire season, had only one ring. He had already spent eight years, winning four MVPs, and was beginning to trend downward in his abilities. He knew, to solidify his greatest center legacy, he needed more jewelry.
The other reason Chamberlain wanted out was feelings-related. He’d asked the summer of 1968 to act as Player/Coach for the team, and GM Jack Ramsey, said he’d consider it. It was, per his book “Dr. Jack’s Leadership Lessons Learned From a Lifetime in Basketball”, one of Ramsey’s major regrets.
The result was Wilt demanding a trade to be out West. Again, a star center traded for a handful of beans. Aren’t the Lakers lucky?
4 Chris Paul: From the New Orleans Hornets to the L.A. Lakers/L.A. Clippers (2011)
Chris Paul was at the top of his game when he asked quietly, for a trade from New Orleans to a bigger market. Over his six years with the club, he’d led the league in assists twice and been named to five consecutive All-Star games.
Of course, the Hornets drew plenty of offers, most notably, from the L.A. Lakers. The Lakers were seeking a last go around for Kobe Bryant, and were rumored to be in talks for Dwight Howard. The mere thought of those three joining forces, frightened everyone in the league.
This is when it gets interesting. A deal had been put in place to send CP3 to the Lakers. But David Stern vetoed the trade. The result was CP3 being sent to the Clippers for star guard Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and a few others.
While the move radically benefited the Clippers, turning them into instant contenders, it negatively impacted the Lakers for years to come. The Lakers didn’t get Howard until the next year. Both Howard and Bryant fought without a real leader to get in-between them. They’d nabbed Steve Nash, but that was a debacle as he got hurt and missed most the year. Howard left that summer for free agency.
Paul has gone on to make six straight All-Star appearances with the Clippers.
3 Stephon Marbury: From the Minnesota Timberwolves to the New Jersey Nets (1999)
When Stephon Marbury demanded a trade out of Minnesota to the New Jersey Nets, I was bummed. He and a young Kevin Garnett created a crazy good duo. I can only imagine what could have become of those two and the Timberwolves, had they made a pact to make it work.
Another reason why a lockout is a bad idea: It allows players to sit around pondering where else they’d like to play. Marbury did just that. He demanded a trade to New Jersey, and the Wolves made good on his demands. In a three-team deal, they sent Marbury to the Nets in exchange for Terrell Brandon from Milwaukee.
Marbury went on to enjoy his best years with the Nets – including a career best 23.9-point average in the 2000-2001 campaign.
2 Jason Kidd: From the New Jersey Nets to the Dallas Mavericks (2008)
Kidd – one of the greatest point guards of his generation – had an interesting career that came full circle in 2008. Originally drafted to the Mavs in 1994, Kidd quickly became a premier point guard, and was dealt to the Suns after only two years with the club. The reasons supposedly was a love triangle between him, Toni Braxton and teammate Jim Jackson. He soon found his way to the Nets, where as their franchise face, led the organization to two straight Finals appearances.
In 2008, and on the decline, Kidd asked for a trade to a contender. He was seeking a ring, and after much interesting finagling, Mark Cuban brought Kidd back to the Mavericks, where he acted as a key cog in the team’s title in 2011.
1 Charles Barkley: From the Philadelphia 76ers to the Phoenix Suns (1992)
Jokes on the 76ers. They traded arguably the best power forward of his era, because of his bad attitude.
It’s simple: Barkley wanted to ball. He didn’t want to sit around pondering how he could make small children feel bubbly inside – and what’s wrong with that? The guy had given Philadelphia eight years; averaged 23.3 points, led the league in rebounding once, named to numerous All-NBA teams, and went to six straight All-Star games.
Barkley wore out his welcome, and he didn’t care. He was maligned. He used it to get himself in a better position. And it worked.
The Suns stole Barkley. Giving the 76ers Jeff Hornacek and no names. The result? Barkley won his only MVP that year with the Suns, and the team made the NBA Finals.
Last laugh for Chuck.