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Jack McCallum's Fast Break

Dec. 25, 2006
Dec. 25, 2006

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Dec. 25, 2006

The Year in Sports 2006
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Jack McCallum's Fast Break

MOVING ON UP?

This is an article from the Dec. 25, 2006 issue Original Layout

Though rumors about Allen Iverson's eventual landing spot captivated the NBA (as of Monday he was still nominally a 76er, but his nameplate had been removed and his locker cleaned out), the idea of a superstar's demanding a trade to increase his chances of winning a championship is by no means unprecedented. Great players throughout the decades have clamored for a change of scenery for a variety of reasons, usually having something to do with the opportunity to accessorize a digit, which is the case with Iverson (right).

It's impossible to predict if he will realize his goal in his new home. Iverson is 31, which presumably puts him on the downside of a career spent careening off big men and bouncing off the floor, and unlikely to be a difference-maker. On the other hand the 33.0 points per game he put up last season was the highest average of his 11-year career, so perhaps he has enough left to help a team win a title.

Here's a lineup of All-Stars who were near Iverson's age when they were traded, and how they fared in their new environs.

Wilt Chamberlain (San Francisco Warriors to 76ers, 1965, and 76ers to Lakers, left, '68) Age at trade: 29 the first time, then 31 Production: Scoring went down as he sacrificed shots for the sake of the team, but he remained a top rebounder and began to pass more Dream come true? Twice. Won titles with Philly in '67 and with L.A. in '72

Dave DeBusschere (Pistons to Knicks, 1968) Age at trade: 28 Production: Was just as effective through the end of his career Dream come true? Twice. Won titles in '70 and '73

Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Royals to Bucks, 1970) Age at trade: 31 Production: Scoring, rebounding and assists declined in each of his four seasons in Milwaukee Dream come true? Yes. Milwaukee won title in '71—of course, he had plenty of help (see next player)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Bucks to Lakers, 1975) Age at trade: 27 Production: Remained Hall of Fame caliber until late in his career Dream come true? Added four titles to the one he won in Milwaukee—he did play with Magic Johnson, though

Charles Barkley (76ers to Suns, 1992, and Suns to Rockets, '96) Age at trade: 29 the first time, then 33 Production: Had superb first year with Phoenix and won MVP; injuries began to catch up with him in Houston Dream come true? No. Suns came close in '93 but lost to Bulls in Finals

BUZZER BEATERS

3 Commissioner David Stern appears serious about creating European-style basketball academies for young, elite players in the U.S.; witness his tour last week of IMG Academies in Florida. It's a fruitful area for examination—though including shoe giants Nike and Adidas in the study group, as the NBA is doing, seems misguided.

2 One season after getting rid of Ron Artest, the Pacers are dealing with the ongoing unpredictability of swingman Stephen Jackson. Jackson is often compared with Artest as a nice guy with a dark streak. But if the Pacers want to unload him down the road, they will have a hard time. "Artest is a big-time player who can control a game," says one G.M., "whereas Jax isn't remotely worth the trouble."

1 The heat has been coming down on LeBron James for the Cavaliers' tepid play, even though he's averaging 26.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists. That's unfair. James desperately needs the contributions of injury-prone guard Larry Hughes, who is just starting to get back into shape after missing 10 games with a sprained right ankle.

ONLY ON SI.COM Original pieces from Jack McCallum every Tuesday and Thursday at SI.com/nba.

PHOTOBOB ROSATO (IVERSON)PHOTOWALTER IOOSS JR. (CHAMBERLAIN)