30 March 2014
As free agents hit the market in the NFL, and NBA & NHL teams attempt to fortify themselves for the stretch run, here is a listing of (some of the) best deals in history.
I. New York Yankees: Acquiring Babe Ruth
The Boston Red Sox traded P/OF Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1919, undoubtedly unaware that he would wind up as an American icon with 714 home runs. In the eyes of some Boston fans, that trade brought into effect the Curse of the Bambino, the curse which allegedly bedeviled the Red Sox from that point until 2004, when they won their next World Series title after an improbable playoff comeback from three games down against the Yankees.
II. Brooklyn Dodgers: Moving to Los Angeles
The Brooklyn Dodgers were looking to build a new stadium…and ironically, the area they wanted is the very same land on which the Brooklyn Nets are playing at the Barclays Center.
Unable to get what they wanted at home, they took a sweetheart deal 3000 miles away in which they got gifted the land on which Dodger Stadium was built.
III. Yankees beat Indians
No, not on the baseball diamond, at least this time. Dutch settlers purchased the island of Manhattan from Native Americans for what has traditionally said to have been twenty-four dollars. Even if a more recent analysis is correct in pricing it closer to a thousand dollars, it was still a steal – on several levels.
IV. Philadelphia ’76ers: Acquiring Julius “Dr. J” Erving
After the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, New York Nets owner Roy Boe was strapped for cash – and sold the merged league’s greatest gate attraction, Dr. J, to the Sixers.
With Erving, the Nets had won two of the last three ABA titles…but have not won since. The Doctor became the centerpiece of the Sixers franchise for over a decade, and helped lead them to the NBA Championship in 2003.
As an addendum, the worst decision ever made was by the New York Knicks, who turned down a similar trade for Erving.
V. Spirits Owners: Acquiring Future Assets
As the aforementioned merger was taking shape, Ozzie and Daniel Silna, owners of the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis – yes, that was their name – took a buyout as opposed to joining the NBA. Their deal entitled them to 4/7 of a team’s TV revenue in perpetuity, a deal that wouldn’t seem like much with a league that showed playoff games on tape delay in that era.
Since then the popularity of players from the Doctor, Bird and Magic, and Jordan to King James and Durant have catapulted the league to new heights of popularity…and this deal has been worth up to $300 million…plus the $500 million the NBA recently paid to end the arrangement.
VI. Toronto Blue Jays: Trading with the Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics: Trading with the Toronto Blue Jays
Danny Ainge, a college basketball hero, was playing for the Blue Jays, where he batted .187 in 1981. When he decided to leave baseball for the Celtics, it set off a legal dispute between the teams, with the Celtics ultimately paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000 to the Blue Jays.
The Jays got much more than they probably could have from any baseball team, while the Celtics got a guard that helped them win championships in 1984 and 1986.
VII. Dallas Cowboys: Trading Herschel Walker to Minnesota
Herschel Walker was an incredible back, from college to the USFL to the NFL – but his biggest NFL impact was probably as a result of his trade to Minnesota largely for 13 players, some of which helped fuel the Cowboys’ success for years to come.