The New York Knicks and Nets didn’t show enough interest in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and so he went to Milwaukee and Los Angeles instead.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finished his illustrious career with 6 MVPs and 6 NBA titles. However, before even reaching the NBA, he had already cemented himself as the greatest collegiate basketball player of all time.
He led the UCLA Bruins to a 88-2 record over 3 years, and claimed 3 NCAA titles in the timespan. It was apparent that Kareem (Lew Alcindor at the time) was to go number 1 overall in the 1969 NBA draft.
However, at the time, the ABA was still a league, trying to compete with the NBA; and they had also claimed the right to draft Kareem.
The New York Nets of the ABA miss out on Kareem
The first pick of the NBA draft was decided by a coin flip between Phoenix and Milwaukee, of which the latter won. The New York Nets also had the first pick of the ABA draft.
The Nets believed they had already won the Kareem sweepstakes as he was a fellow New Yorker. Due to their cockiness, the Nets low-balled Kareem in comparison to what the Bucks offered him.
Upon realizing their mistake, the Nets offered him a guaranteed $3.25 million. Kareem declined this offer, staying true to his word to Milwaukee since they had displayed their desire for him more.
The Knicks then repeated the same 6 years later, losing out on Kareem to the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers trade win the Kareem sweepstakes, over the New York Knicks
Coming off a season where he averaged 30 points, Kareem grew tired of Milwaukee, and demanded a trade to either LA or New York. He had already won a chip with the Bucks but wanted a shift in culture.
The Knicks had their then-GM Eddie Donovan fly down to Milwaukee to hash out a trade. However, Donovan low-balled the Bucks, believing Kareem would of course choose the Knicks given his Harlem origins.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1964-1971
▫️3x High School Champion
▫️3x NCAA Champion
▫️1x NBA Champion
Winning was in his DNA pic.twitter.com/xae795IZza
— MJs GOAT (@MjsGoat) November 12, 2020
The Bucks felt disrespected and dealt the then 3x MVP to the Lakers for a more reasonable package. When asked about this, Kareem said, “I don’t think it’s smart to go around people who don’t really want you.”
Kareem too pointed out that Lakers wanted him more than the Knicks and hence he decided to move to LA. Thus, for the 2nd time, a New York franchise lost out on Kareem, just because they felt they had the upper hand.
The sky hook aficionado ended up winning 3 more MVPs and 5 more titles with the Lakers.
Source: Redditor u/Garntus