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NBA What ifs

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In the world of sports one play can change the course of history that many don't realize. The NBA is no stranger to this as there have been countless events that have left many fans wondering what if.


10. What if LeBron James went to college?

LeBron James is one of the most beloved and hated players the game of basketball has ever known, but he is without a doubt that has left his mark on the game. We all know the story of the boy from Akron, Ohio who would later become drafted number 1 overall in the 2003 NBA by the Cleveland Cavaliers and bring home a championship to his city after promising to bring one. This could have been very different if LeBron for whatever reason decided to go to play basketball in college.


Now what college would have LeBron attend? It is very clear as he even stated that he would have gone to THE Ohio State University. With LeBron in college the whole draft is reshaped now it the 1st overall draft pick the Cavaliers are left with picking between Camerlo, Darko, Bosh, and Wade. The draft may have played out like this Camerlo to the Cavs, Darko to the Pistons, Bosh goes to Denver, Chris Kaaman goes to Toronto, and Wade goes to Maimi. In the 2004 NBA draft with the number 1 pick the Orlando Magic decided to draft LeBron instead of Dwight Howard. Now Howard goes number 2 to whichever team lucky lands that pick. Just with this change the whole NBA looks different and will never be the same players in new places and new champions.


9. What if Kevin Durant stays in OKC?


No one could have seen what happened on July 4, 2016 as Kevin Durant broke the entire landscape of the NBA by joining the already stacked Golden State Warriors. If that wasn’t bad enough the Warriors were the exact team that had eliminated KD in the playoffs the season before after OKC were up 3-1 in the series. This left the NBA unbalanced and created arguably the best team ever.


If KD decided to resign with OKC obviously the NBA’s future would look different and not be as unbalanced as the league was at the time. KD’s decision to stay in OKC only really affects the Western Conference as the East still belongs to LeBron and the Cavs. Now with KD still in Oklahoma the battle for the West gets more interesting and lets the Warriors, Thunder, Rockets, Spurs, and even the Trailblazers battle it out. Along with this Kawhi Leonard never gets injured and his and the Spurs relationship might not be broken which means he doesn’t go to Toronto which means they might never reach the Finals in 2019. The legacies of all the players on these teams change and no one knows if it was for the better or for the worse.


8. What if the Lakers never trade for Kobe?


The Lakers are one of the most prestigious sports teams of all time who seem to always get the biggest stars. They were able to do this once again by taking a chance in the 1996 NBA draft and trading for Kobe Bryant with the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets made one of the worst decisions by not even trying to keep Kobe and already had plans to trade him when they drafted him.


The Hornets deciding to keep and develop Kobe doesn’t change NBA history right away, but it does in the long run. The Lakers without Kobe don’t have a dynamic duo that takes over the league. Taking Kobe away from the Lakers also means they probably don’t win as many championships as they did. Kobe being drafted by the Hornets doesn’t guarantee he stays in Charlotte as they were unable to build a championship caliber team he would either leave during free agency or ask to be traded. We could have seen the kid who was the closest thing to Jordan play for the same team as him.


7. What if Chris Paul went to the Lakers?


In what could have been one of the biggest trades in NBA history David Stern decided to veto the trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets which would have seen the team up of Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. We all know how this worked out in which Chris Paul was eventually traded to Los Angeles, but to the other team the Clippers. As for the Lakers they would get nothing and had to go and wait til the next season to get Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.


Chris Paul going to the Lakers makes the Lakers a title contender right away and means Steve Nash doesn’t come to LA. Dwight Howard coming to the Lakers seems like it was always going to happen, but who knows if the Lakers having Kobe and Chris changes the approach Dwight had during his run with them. Having a big 3 means Kobe doesn’t have to carry the Lakers like he did originally and probably doesn’t put some much strain on his body and has all those injuries. The Lakers being one of the better teams in the West means we could get a Kobe vs LeBron in the Finals.


6. What if James Harden wasn't traded?


When most fans think of the Oklahoma City Thunder they can only think what could have been? They had three future MVPs in their hands all 23 and under the last time they were all on the same team. OKC stopped their own success because they wanted to avoid the luxury tax. All three players went their own directions and have seen a form of success others players would love to have.


OKC giving James Harden an extension would have given the Thunder their best chance at winning an NBA championship. This was a team that just last season made it to the NBA Finals and this leaves the Rockets without a star that carries them to contend in the West. OKC keeping their core makes them one of the top teams in the West and one of the few teams that can compete with the Spurs. As the Thunder get better we could get a new dynasty instead of the one in Golden State.


5. What if Len Bias never died?


One of the most bizarres and saddening stories in the NBA is that of Len Bias. In the 1986 draft most scouts thought of Bias as a superstar in the making. Having been this player with so much promise, the only thing that was missing was who will be drafting him. Surprisingly the champions Boston Celtics traded Gerald Henderson and cash to the Seattle Supersonics for the right for the 2nd pick in the 1986 draft in which they would use to draft Bias. The future seemed bright for Bias and the Celtics, but quickly how that all changed forever. Just two days after being drafted Bias had a seizure and collapsed on the floor due to cocaine. This is one of the saddest tragedies in the NBA.


The Len Bias pick could have kept the Celtic dynasty alive and extended it well into the 90’s. Now with Bias on the Celtics of the late 80’s probably wouldn’t have been as beat up as they were and would be able to be more dominant and win maybe a ring or two in the process. If Bias was able to become a superstar like he was, we could have seen a rivalry between Bias and Jordan. Who knows if the Celtics could have prevented the Bulls dynasty from happening as Jordan finally gets a rival that the media doesn’t have to hype up on his level. Bias on the Celtics also means long lingering effects to the future of the NBA with players being drafted which include stars to different organizations.


4. What if Michael Jordan never retires?


Michael Jordan is seen in the eyes of many as one if not the greatest basketball players of all time. He left the fans of the sports world at a loss for words when he decided to retire from the game of basketball in 1993 and pursue his career in baseball. While Jordan decided to return to the game of basketball in 1995 many wonder how much more the 6 time champion could have accomplished.


Coming off the first three peat it would be only a matter of time until the extra games played would affect the Bulls. We have seen this with the Golden State Warriors and their stars all having their fair share of injuries. Even if the Bulls made it back to the NBA Finals in 94 then they would have to go through Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets. The outcome of this matchup can go either way. We could be talking about an 8 peat on the way or a shortcoming for the Bulls.


3. What if Shaq and Kobe didn't split up?


There is without a doubt the dynamic duo of Shaq and Kobe were probably the best duo the NBA has ever seen, but the two couldn’t get past each other's differences. In their time together they were able to capture 3 NBA championships in a row becoming one of only a few teams to achieve this feat. There is no question Kobe and Shaq both wish they could have continued to team up and maybe add a couple more rings while they are at it.


Shaq not being traded obviously changes the history of the NBA by not being on the Heat and doesn’t make the Lakers a bottom team in the West. The Lakers with Kobe and Shaq make the West even more interesting because of how stacked the West is at this time. Another thing that might change if Shaq stayed in Los Angeles is his health. Shaq keeping his body in shape just means a better chance at the Lakers winning more championships and extend what could be a dynasty.


2. What if Magic Johnson wasn't forced to retire early?


The whole world not only the basketball community was in shock to find out one of the greatest players to have played the game was diagnosed with HIV. Due to the disease Magic was forced to retire from the NBA. While he came back to the NBA he wasn’t quite the same player he once was has his play declined. While it was good to see Magic come back imagine if he never had to be forced to retire.


A healthy Magic Johnson would be able to help the Lakers and give them a chance to compete for another championship instead of a team on the decline. Another Lakers and Bulls matchup could be in the works and a healthier Laker team would make it more competitive. Magic being a part of the Lakers means who knows if they could have lured another star to join them. While a decline is inevitable the years the Lakers were not as good could have been competitive and maybe win even with a championship while MJ was away.


1. What if Derrick Rose never gets injured?


When it comes to Derrick Rose and his career all anyone can really say is what if he never got hurt? The career of Derrick Rose is one of the hardest to determine as being the youngest MVP in league history at 22 years old, it is hard to believe that he hit his peak at 22. In game 1 of the 2012 NBA playoffs with about a minute and 20 seconds left Chicago up by 12 against the 76ers

suffers an ACL injury on his left leg. A young and bright future was taken away from Derrick Rose and was never quite the same.


The Bulls having Derrick Rose completely changes how the NBA is and how his career is seen in a different light. When the Bulls didn’t have Rose they weren’t a match for the Heat. The future would be bright in Chicago though as Jimmy Butler would be a rising star and have a healthy Derrick Rose and would be able to build around them. The Bulls could rise up and take over the Eastern Conference.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Drako213

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