The names read like a who's who of the NBA: Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Stephon Marbury, Marcus Camby, Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O'Neal. All were drafted in 1996. All blossomed into NBA stars. So far only the 2003 NBA Draft has shown the potential to compare with the 1996 Draft as one of the deepest and most game-changing drafts in recent NBA history. Together with Antoine Walker, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the Class of '96 has totalled three NBA MVP Awards, nine All-NBA First Team Selections, and 41 All-Star appearances.
It was the draft that would replace Michael. It was the draft that showed Kevin Garnett wasn't the only high schooler who could ball. It was the draft that brought the Hip-Hop Generation to the NBA. It was also the draft that brought us players involved in some of the dumbest trades in recent NBA history. In honor of the impending give-away of Allen Iverson, let's take a look back at six of the more lopsided trades involving the Class of 1996.
Kobe Bryant, Draft Night 1996: The Charlotte Hornets traded Bryant, the 13th pick, to the Lakers for Vlade Divac. Although Divac would play two semi-productive seasons in Charlotte before moving on to Sacramento, the Lakers received a starting shooting guard and future Hall of Famer in the son of Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant. Imagine for a moment if Charlotte kept Kobe, perhaps the Hornets would have stayed in Charlotte, Shaq and Phil Jackson might not have won in LA, and the Bobcats might not be in existance.
Jermaine O'Neal, September 1, 2000: Frustrated that a high school center/power forward couldn't dominate the NBA after four years, the Portland Trail Blazers trade O'Neal to Indiana for Dale Davis. Arguably a decent move at the time, by acquiring the second best O'Neal in the NBA, the Pacers got a All-Star, team leader, and tag-team partner for Ron Artest.
Marcus Camby, June 26, 2002: Having found his way on to the New York Knicks, Marcus Camby was traded along with Nene Hilario and Mark Jackson to the Denver Nuggets for Antonio McDyess and Frank Williams. In possibly the worst Knicks trade not done by Isiah Thomas, McDyess would do a whole lot of nothing with the Knicks while Camby and Nene, when healthy, had pretty good seasons for the Nuggets.
Ray Allen, February 20, 2003: The Milwaukee Bucks traded Allen, Kevin Ollie, Flip Murray and a draft pick that would become Luke Ridnour to the Sonics for Gary Payton and Desmond Mason. Payton would play only a half season with the Bucks before signing with LA, leaving Mason the only player the Bucks received for the Sonics' current starting backcourt. And Mason was eventually traded for Scarborough Walk of Fame inductee Jamaal Magloire.
Stephon Marbury, January 5, 2004: In another trade involving the Knicks, the Phoenix Suns shipped Marbury, Penny Hardaway, and Cezary Trybanski to New York for Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Antonio McDyess, Maciej Lampe, draft rights to Milos Vujanic, a first-round 2004 draft choice, and an additional future first-round draft choice. Although not a bad trade for the Knicks, the Zeke and Starbury hype machine quickly became the most overrated since the Dan and Dave Olympic quest.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim, August 4-9, 2005: Shareef Adbur-Rahim, then with the Portland Trailblazers, was traded and then not traded to the New Jersey Nets for the Nets' 1st round pick in the 2006 draft. After almost being complete, the trade was rescinded when Abdur-Rahim failed a physical. Curiously, Abdur-Rahim didn't help his chances of playing in NJ when he stated "I don't feel I want to be a Net." Personally, I don't feel like going to work everyday, but I do.
Can the history of the Class of 1996 predict where Allen Iverson will go? With the past as our guide, my guess is Allen Iverson will be traded for Dodge City Legend 7'9" giant Sun Ming Ming, and a $24 bag of trinkets and beads. Hey, at least the Sixers would get a center in exchange for their Manhattan Island.