It’s a new era. NBA players are taking control of their careers in a way they never have before. Did you see Miami? Now we have Carmelo Anthony trying to manuever his way out of Denver to New York like no player has ever done before.
Players have done it before. More than once. Peter Vecsey, in a fun column at the New York Post, reminds us this same scenario is how Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ended up with the Lakers.
Thirty-six years ago (come June 16) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was traded by the Bucks to the Lakers. Before his sixth season the team franchise player/league centerfold politely informed management he was prepared to sign with the ABA Nets when his contract ran out later that year if he weren’t dealt to an NBA city of his choice….
“Kareem set quite a precedent, didn’t he?” Wayne Embry marveled last week by phone from his winter home in Scottsdale, where he works as a part-time consultant to the Raptors….
Meaning, Embry conducted the clandestine operations that resulted in the Lord of the Rims being exchanged (along with Walt Wesley) for Brian Winters, Elmore Smith, Nos. 2 and 7 in the first round (David Meyers and Junior Bridgeman) and cash.
It’s amazing how the circle of history comes back around. The Knicks got a chance to bid first for Kareem but tried to lowball the Bucks (no first round picks, sound familiar?) because they thought Kareem wanted only to come to New York. Why? Because it’s New York (his home). The plan failed. The Lakers came in later with a better offer and got the deal done.
Something else the Nuggets may want to take away from this history lesson — you never get equal value for your superstar. The Bucks didn’t. It’s about getting smart picks to speed up the rebuilding. For the Bucks their No. 2 pick (Meyers) didn’t really pan out but Bridgeman went on to have a good NBA career. (He’s done pretty well for himself post NBA, too.)
But the Nuggets got greedy, angered a Russian billionaire, and here we are. Watching history repeating itself, just on a very public stage now.