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The 7 Biggest What Ifs in NBA History

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The age-old question that holds so much weight yet so little because it is far from the reality that has been witnessed, What If? However, we as fans of basketball, will not shy away from discussing and predicting what could have happened. In a sport that has had over 50 years of drama, winning, losing and even tragedy, what ifs are inevitable. But not all what ifs are created equal, some could have altered much more than just the NBA but leave an impact on the lives outside of it.

7. What If James Harden was never traded to the Houston Rockets

One of the most recent entries on this list, the Oklahoma City Thunder had managed to get three superstar caliber players (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden), all of which would eventually win MVP in three straight first rounds. General Manager Sam Presti had managed to create a young core of superstar players that led there squad to an NBA Finals matchup with the powerhouse Miami Heat and ultimately lost due to the star power and veteran leadership that the Heat had at their disposal. Although the Thunder were able to make the NBA Finals they failed to extend Harden’s contract and ultimately traded him to the Rockets. A move that changed the course of the seasons to come and eventually led to the demise of the Thunder, as all three of these players would make their exit without delivering a championship to the state of Oklahoma and leaving Thunder fans with the hopes and dreams of what could have been.


6. What If Len Bias Didn’t Overdose?

Len Bias’s passing days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics may be the most tragic passing in NBA history. Bias was a young player out of the University of Maryland that had gained attention and was considered to be the next big thing since Michael Jordan, who had been drafted two years prior. The death of Len Bias not only shook the NBA as it affected the Boston Celtics teams for years to come, could have helped lessen the load on Larry Bird who had been suffering from back problems but put light on a bigger issue at the time, drug abuse.


5. What if Derrick Rose never tears his ACL?

One of the saddest moments in Bulls history and dare I say in the history of basketball. Rose had already established himself as a superstar point guard who had led the Bulls to the 1 seed in the East and became the youngest MVP in NBA history, Rose’s career was destined to be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Rose, age 23 at the time, was questionably on the court during the final minute of game one of the first round in the 2012 playoffs. The Bulls would later go on to win the game but no words spoke louder than Kyle Korver, who dubbed the game as “the saddest win ever”.


4. What If Charlotte Didn’t Trade Kobe Bryant?

Jerry West was convinced that at the time a 17 year old Kobe Bryant would eventually become an impact player for the future of the Lakers. Having given up veteran big man Vlade Divac, the return on investment was one that led to five banners be hanged at the Staples Center. Sadly, this is not the case for the Hornets who have yet to win a championship and have seen minimal success since the trade was made leaving Hornets fans thinking, what if? This also poses the question of how many championships would the Lakers win without Kobe.


3. What If The Pistons Drafted Carmelo Anthony?

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#TBT to 2003 with @cuse_mbb 🏆🍊

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In one of the greatest NBA drafts in the history of basketball, the Pistons managed to select one of the biggest draft busts of all time, Darko MIllic. Millic who now spends his days working on his farm was the first of the top 5 picks (LeBron, Wade, Anthony, Bosh) to win an NBA championship. However, the thought of a already established Pistons team with a young scoring machine like Carmelo Anthony is something to salivate over as a basketball fan. Anthony, who remains as the only player in the top 5 of the 2003 draft class to not win a championship, would have had a better chance with the 2003 Pistons than with any other team he has currently been on.


2. What If Michael Jordan Was Drafted By The Trail Blazers?

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University of North Carolina’s Finest

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I am sorry Blazer fans. Michael Jordan should have been a Blazer, just how Kevin Durant could have been a Blazer but I will give you guys a pass on that one. With the second pick in the 1984 draft, the Blazers selected Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan. The Rockets who owned the first pick get a pass as they drafted Hakeem Olajuwon, who led them to two championships. On the other hand, the Blazers have not won a championship since 1977, with Jordan even beating them in 1992 NBA Finals.


1. What If Michael Jordan Never Retired To Play Baseball?

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#victorious

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Michael freaking Jordan. The GOAT. His Airness. Air Jordan. MJ. It is almost an absolute shame that basketball fans were stripped from seeing two more years of MJ in his prime. Fresh off a three peat the Bulls were not going to slow down, the possibility of 4 championships or maybe even a whole decade of dominance that would have established the Bulls as the greatest dynasty in basketball history.


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