As a 6x MVP, 19x All-Star, 6x NBA Champion and the NBA’s highest All-Time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar isn’t just one of the greatest Lakers ever, he’s one of the greatest basketball players ever.
But had he gone to a different team — say, the New York Knicks, in the 70s, his career likely would have not have been the same. Interestingly enough, according to a piece by Aaron Matthew of essentiallysports, he was actually considering signing with the Knickerbockers at one point during his storied career.
The New York Knicks have been at the receiving end of jokes for years now. Whether it is a poor trade or a shambolic draft decision, a majority of their choices have backfired and blown up in their face. These poor decisions date back to the 1970s, when the Knicks decided to pass up on a future Hall of Famer in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
After spending six seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem decided it was time to seek new pastures. He was a fan of the Knicks and even called it home. Despite him expressing his desire to play for them, the Knicks did not bother. During his time with the Bucks, Kareem won the MVP award thrice and was averaging 30 points, 15 rebounds, and over 3 blocks. And on top of that, Knicks legendary center Willis Reed retired in 1974 at just 31, after suffering many injuries.
In case you’re not convinced, check out what he said during a press conference AFTER his trade to the Lakers:
“I wanted to go to New York and play (there). It’s been a dream of mine since I first started playing basketball: to play for the Knickerbockers. But the way things worked out the Lakers were very interested in having me come here and they made sincere determined efforts to get me here. They tried to make me feel at home and New York, this just wasn’t the case for them. So I don’t think its smart to go around people that don’t really want you.”
You don’t have to read in between the lines to understand what he’s saying here. The Knicks’ inaction to land Kareem was evidence to the big man that he just wasn’t wanted by the franchise.
For as much as KAJ wanted to go, nobody really wants to end up somewhere they aren’t wanted. He eventually moved on from his dreams of playing in New York and had an amazingly dominant career in L.A.
As for the Knicks, it seems their failure and dysfunction traces back a long, long time and probably explains why they only have two titles in their franchise history for being such a big market.
When will it end?