Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is arguably one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. The 6-time NBA Champion is the current leading scorer in NBA history and won countless honors over the course of his illustrious career. The game truly hasn't seen a force like Kareem since his retirement.
Kareem won his first NBA Championship in 1971 as part of the Milwaukee Bucks, the only championship in the franchise's history until the Bucks' 2021 championship triumph with Giannis Antetokounmpo as their star. Kareem always felt out of place in Milwaukee and requested a trade from the city, being dealt to the LA Lakers in 1975.
The legendary center would win 5 NBA Championships alongside Magic Johnson from 1979 to 1988, proving to everyone that Kareem going to LA was the right thing. However, Kareem didn't want to be a Laker and was angling for a move to the New York Knicks that never ended up materializing.
“I wanted to go to New York and play in New York. It’s been a dream of mine since I first started playing basketball: to play for the Knickerbockers. The way things worked out, the Lakers and especially Mr. Cooke were very, very interested in having me and made sincere and determined efforts to get me here. They wanted me and made a strong effort to make me feel at home. New York, that just wasn't the case with them. I don’t think it’s smart to go around people who don’t really want you.”
The Knicks missing out on Kareem is yet another example of the franchise missing out on top players throughout their history. The team would land a star center a decade later when they got to draft Patrick Ewing but are still waiting for a taste of championship glory.
Considering the number of rings Kareem had earned over his career, maybe he could've catapulted the Knicks to championship status. We will never know what could have been but we have seen everything that did happen, and it doesn't look pretty for the Knicks.