The idea of writing this article is for every player you see, to say “really? this guy played for them?!” We forget that as time goes on and the legends of the game get older, the less effective on the court they get. They seem to end up on different teams as their old teams try and move on, starting their rebuilding process into the next generation.
Or sometimes, it’s simply a cash grab as these guys know it could quite possibly be their last couple of seasons. Anyhow, here is your top ten players that you may have forgotten pulled on these particular jerseys.
#10 – Clyde Drexler – Houston Rockets
It’s pretty safe to say that Clyde ‘the Glide’ Drexler is the greatest Portland Trail Blazer of all time. Some may forget that he actually played two and a half seasons as a member of the Houston Rockets.
In February of 1995, Portland honoured Drexler’s request to be traded to a championship calibre team, and was sent back to his home-town Houston Rockets. The trade was a straight swap for Otis Thorpe, who would only play a total of 34 games for the Blazers before moving on to Detroit.
Paired with perennial superstar Hakeem Olajuwon, the two led the Rockets to an improbable championship in 1995, sweeping the Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal led Orlando Magic.
#9 – Michael Jordan – Washington Wizards
Ok, so most people know MJ played for the Wizards, but its still weird to see him in an NBA jersey that wasn’t Chicago red. In September of 2001, MJ announced he would return to the NBA with Washington, and donate his player salary to a relief effort for the victims of the September 11 attacks.
During the 2001-02 season, MJ led his team in scoring, assist and steals. During the 2002-03 season, Jordan was the only Washington player to play in all 82 games, starting in 67 of them. Even though he turned 40 during the season, he scored 20 or more points 42 times, 30 or more points nine times, and 40 or more points three times. On February 21, 2003, Jordan became the first 40-year-old to tally 43 points in an NBA game.
While a member of the Washington Wizards, every single home game was a sell out, and the Wizards were the second most watched team in the league. All that while those Wizards weren’t even a playoff team.
#8 – Shaquille O’Neal – Cleveland Cavaliers/Boston Celtics
Towards the end of Shaq’s storied NBA career, he was simply seeking a fifth ring. He first stopped in Cleveland on his quest to ‘win and ring for the King’. Shaq was traded to the Cavs in June of 2009, and saw dramatic falls in just about every statistic the NBA records. He helped the Cavs through their last playoff push before LeBron James skipped town, eventually losing to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The year after, Shaq would join those same Boston Celtics signing a two year deal. After playing just 37 games for the Celtics, O’Neal announced his retirement via social media. On a short tape on Twitter, O’Neal tweeted, “We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first. I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.”
#7 – Robert Parish – Chicago Bulls
Robert Parish ranks in most ‘Top 10 Boston Celtics’ lists going around. Little do most people know that Parish finished his NBA career with the enemy, the Chicago Bulls.
Not only did Parish finish up with the Bulls in the 1996-97 season, but he actually won his fourth ring with them. In a team that has the second best regular season record of all time, Parish joined MJ, Rodman and Pippen and posted a remarkable 69-13 record. That record is second only to the 1997-98 Bulls, who posted a 70-12 record, go figure. As of 2015, Parish remains the oldest player to win an NBA championship.
#6 – George Gervin – Chicago Bulls
The Iceman spent all but one season of his NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs. That extra season was spent alongside Michael Jordan in Chicago.
Gervin was traded for forward David Greenwood after missing multiple pre season workouts amid the possibility of being relegated to the bench in San Antonio. When he arrived in Chicago, it wasnt all sunshine and rainbows. Gervin’s arrival created some problems between himself and Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. “I have no comment on the trade,” Jordan said. “Just say I am unhappy.”
Gervin played the full 82 games for the Bulls in the 1985-86 season, his last game being the historic 63 point scoring game for Michael Jordan against the Boston Celtics.
#5 – Scottie Pippen – Houston Rockets/Portland Trail Blazers
After the second retirement of Michael Jordan in Chicago, Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Roy Rodgers and a 2000 2nd round draft pick. In a lockout shortened season Pippen joined Hakeem and Charles Barkley in Houston, finishing 5th in the Western Conference with a 31-19 record. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1.
Following the early playoff exit, Pippen expressed his interest in being traded. The Rockets did just that, trading Pippen to the Trail Blazers in exchange for Stacey Augmon, Kelvin Cato, Ed Gray, Carlos Rogers, Brian Shaw and Walt Williams. The trade didn’t exactly go down smoothly, with shots fired from former teammate Charles Barkley.
Charles Barkley appeared on Up Close and openly criticized Pippen by saying: “For him to want to leave after one year, it disappointed me greatly. The Rockets went out of their way to get Scottie and the fans have treated him well, so I was just disappointed in him.”
Pippen commented on the situation in an interview by saying: “I wouldn’t give Charles Barkley an apology at gunpoint. He can never expect an apology from me, if anything, he owes me an apology for coming to play with his fat butt.” He stated that the main reasons for his departure were Barkley’s selfishness and his lack of desire to win.
Pippen went on to play four seasons in Portland before returning to Chicago for his final season. In his first season with the Blazers, Pippen led his team to the Western Conference Finals, they eventually lost to the LA Lakers. In his next three seasons, the Blazers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
#4 – Dominique Wilkins – Los Angeles Clippers
After eleven and half years with the Atlanta Hawks, Wilkins showed no sign of slowing down. The Hawks made headlines by trading their leading scorer to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Danny Manning mid-season. This is still the only time in NBA history a team in first place in their conference traded its leading scorer after the All-Star break.
Wilkins started in all 25 games he played for the Clippers before moving on to play a season with the Celtics.
#3 – Karl Malone – Los Angeles Lakers
At the age of 40, the former Mail Man of Utah, Karl Malone, joined the Los Angeles Lakers in a last ditch bid to win a championship. Malone signed as a free agent, as did Gary Payton. With Malone, Payton, Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers were the title favourites for the 2003-04 season.
The Lakers were dominant at the start of the season, getting off to an 18-3 start, before Malone suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss 39 games. He returned in time for a playoff push, and the Lakers made it through to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately for Malone, they were beaten by the Detroit Pistons in five games, forcing him to retire with knee problems. Malone will go down as one of the greatest players to never win a ring.
#2 – Hakeem Olajuwon – Toronto Raptors
Hakeem ‘the Dream’ Olajuwon did in fact grace Canada with his presence. When the Houston Rockets went in the way of a rebuild, Hakeem turned down a contract extension and was then dealt to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for multiple draft picks.
Olajuwon posted career lows all across the board, but still managed to see his Raptors into the playoffs as the 7th seed. Toronto lost to the Pistons in five, Olajuwon was then forced into retirement due to his back injuries.
#1 – Patrick Ewing – Orlando Magic
It just doesnt sound right does it? Patrick Ewing of the Orlando Magic.
Ewing finished off his career with the Magic, playing 65 games and only starting 4 of them. He also posted career lows in every stat known to man and called it a career at the end of the 2001-02 season. He wasted no time in moving on, accepting an assistant coaching job with the Washington Wizards the season after.