Music and Movies have festivals and awards seasons to look forward to every year. Hoops leagues crown champions after playoff runs, but only a few teams really have a shot. The remaining fanbases look forward to the silly season of the trade market around the NBA Draft. At MMH we want to get all the topics in on that action. As such, this is the list of the Top 10 Trades that have shaped contemporary culture in the Music, Movies, and Hoops worlds.
1. Kobe Bryant Trade
The 1996 NBA draft was stacked. Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Antoine Walker, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen. Oh, and some 17-year-old kid the Charlotte Hornets decided they could not use at the time. They wanted a big name to replace Alonzo Mourning though, and Jerry West had just the Vlade Divac to offer.
Why would he need Divac, anyway? The Lakers wanted to pair the kid, Kobe Bryant, with Shaquille O’Neal. The Lakers needed the cap space Divac was in and the Hornets needed Vlade to fool themselves into believing they could contend under the ownership of George Shinn.
Charlotte traded the 13th pick, the Lakers freed up their cap space to sign O’Neal, and one of the greatest duos in NBA history was formed. West’s grumpy ass finally got all the championship rings and credit as an executive he thought would make him happy as a player.
Even people who don’t watch basketball yell “Kobe!” when shooting paper balls in trash cans. If this isn’t number one, don’t talk to me in the office.
2. Britney Spears Switches How She Is Represented, Approach Gains Her Freedom
Britney Spears switched her approach and how she was represented in her fight against her father. It led to her freedom while highlighting her continued influence on the culture at large, even outside of music. Maybe one day she will get to do her Las Vegas residency properly: her way. Because she’s Britney, bitch.
Britney Spears 12 year conservatorship had stripped her of control over her person and estate. The Framing Britney Spears documentary shed new light on the sexism, double standards, voyeurism, and abuse that have plagued her career.
Britney is still a part of the conversation from ages 8 to 88. Spears started as a ten-year-old on Star Search. She stole our hearts, and oops… she did it again, and again, throughout her career. Her career matured like every woman should be allowed to do and in the process prompted new cultural discussions about sex and how we define “slutty” stereotypes and women. Despite it all, Britney could sell 20 million albums faster than a high schooler could break up with their boyfriend because he had the wrong hot take on the JT situation.
Britney is now free, and watching her fight for that freedom has irrevocably changed the discourse.
3. Back to the Future’s Marty McFly Flip For Michael J. Fox
Nostalgia sells. We all have moments of wishing we could go back and see the way things were. We also wish we could jump forward so we knew how to bet the damn 2022 NBA Finals. Nostalgia is priceless, memories are the most valuable thing we have. The rest can be replaced. And thankfully so, or we wouldn’t have one of the greatest movies of all time.
Michael J. Fox took on the role of Marty in the Back to the Future trilogy, but that wasn’t until Eric Stoltz was shitcanned for being boring. I think the studio used softer terms like “going in a different direction,” but the word got out. He couldn’t hack it like Michael J. Fox.
The movie made Michael J. Fox as much as MJF made the movie. When Back to the Future debuted in 1985, Fox was 24 years old with only two small movies under his belt. The bulk of his fame, and those two movies, came from his association with Family Ties. Christopher Lloyd, who played Emmett “Doc” Brown, was best known for starring in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the sitcom Taxi. Getting Fox to really let his best Marty McFly was going to make-or-break the film.
It made it an instant classic.
4. Scottie Pippen Goes SuperSonic After Leaving Seattle
Scottie Pippen went SuperSonic after leaving Seattle to join Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. That 1987 trade was Michael Jordan’s third year as a pro. He would be pushing 25 at the end of the next season. He was still growing into the His Airness superpowers but if the Bulls were to make a deep run in the playoffs, Jordan needed a Robin to his Batman.
Pippen wasn’t seen as a worthy sidekick by most analysts on draft day, but Chicago saw something in him; they took a flyer on the Central Arkansas alum with the fifth overall pick. The Bulls packaged Olden Polynice, a 1998 second-rounder, and a 1989 first-round pick to Seattle. Chicago got back Pippen and a 1989 first-round draft pick. That pick became Will Perdue.
Pippen helped Jordan clinch six titles and shape the culture of basketball as we know it today. Pippen was a seven-time All-Star and named in the NBA’s 50th anniversary All-Time team. Polynice had an average of 7.8 points and 6.7 rebounds. The Sonics still haven’t managed to win a title, and Seattle no longer has a team. They did, however, reach the Finals in 1996 when they lost to… oh boy, Seattle is going to hate me… the Bulls in six games.
I actually got to watch the games and got a Gary Payton jersey while visiting a grandma in Tacoma. It was on the step side of the family, but that Jovial Joyce was quick with the holiday money envelope. She was good to me, and this trade was definitely good to the Bulls.
It also made Jordan’s way more expensive. That too is part of the culture.
5. Snoop Dogg Swangs South, Joins Master P’s No Limit Records Roster
Snoop Dogg left Death Row Records in January 1998, a year after the album The Doggfather was certified double-platinum. He then signed with No Limit Records, releasing Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told (1998), No Limit Top Dogg (1999), and Tha Last Meal (2000) while operating out of the Dirty South.
From the moment Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told dropped… well… Snoop started pimpin’ game not pushing straight gangsta shit. Why get on an album and snitch when you can be smooth on the beats and get rich? Exposing Snoop to the souths of the South helped him lay back and enjoy the good life.
Snoop got so into the culture game, he’ll even tell you about it in a Corona commercial. Next to Martha Stewart.
6. Road Warriors Kevin McHale & Robert Parrish Fly-In To Help Larry Bird
Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish went from the Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics. Without this trade, we would not have the culture in which a show like Winning Time could be presented. The Great White Hype versus the Showtime Smile No One Could Deny. It was a clash of cultures brought together by basketball. Bonded over, through basketball.
This is still a confounding trade. Boston, of course, had the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in Larry Bird. They also had walking half-cadavers on a court in Dave Cowens and Pete Maravich. I mean no disrespect to the GOAT Pistol, but this wasn’t That Guy suiting up in Leprechaun Green.
Red Auerbach swindled a deal with the Golden State Warriors to send both of Boston’s first-round picks (1st and 13th) for the Warriors’ pick (3) and fourth-year pro, Robert Parrish.
This could be the most lopsided trade of my lifetime. Boston lucked into Kevin McHale, and the Celtics started planning parade routes for a decade. They wound up winning a title the following season, reaching the Finals four more times in the ‘80s, and walking away with rings after two of them.
The Warriors chose Joe Barry Carroll (1) and Rickey Brown (13) with their two picks. Carroll managed to be known by three names and not be a serial killer. He even made an All-Star appearance! Brown averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds before becoming a randomly created UDFA in the NBA2k series.
On the whole, this trade resulted in three championships in the ‘80s for the Celtics. Golden State, on the other hand, had to wait till 2015 for another Finals appearance. They won a few, and now the Warriors and Celtics are battling in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Simply: You really think White Men Can’t Jump gets made without the Bird vs. Magic rivalry? Yeah? Your mother’s an astronaut.
Eric Clapton. Anyone playing guitar knows the name. Anyone with ears has probably heard one of his tunes. When Jeff Beck replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, he really started to spread his wings and fly towards immortality.
The Yardbirds emerged out of 1963 London during the same British boom that brought forward the Rolling Stones and The Who. Only the Yardbirds had Clapton though, and anyone within earshot could immediately tell the difference. But Clapton did not want to “go pop” after “For Your Love” dropped. Clapton instead flew the coop to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (featuring the future of Cream).
The Yardbirds offered the job to Jimmy Page, but Page was making too much money in the studio sessions. They then turned towards Jeff Beck, who jumped right in and started experimenting. This led to what politicians in the ‘90s confused for heavy metal. Page eventually joined, and Beck eventually left. Clapton became Clapton. King Crimson and Dream Theater were born from the ashes of frets burned by all involved.
8. Sylvester Stallone Almost Killed Comedy In Beverly Hills Cop
Beverly Hills Cop came into the world the same year I did, the greatest year of all, 1984. There would have been a glitch in Orwell’s software had Sylvester Stallone been allowed to ruin Beverly Hills Cop. Stallone is many things, but funny is not one of them. The world is a better place and the Cold War’s worse option was avoided when Eddie Murphy replaced Stallone as Alex Foley. Beverly Hills Cop showed the way by allowing an undeniable Black voice like Eddie Murphy to have the microphone and use it.
It was a breakthrough role and helped created a whole genre of mismatched cop comedies. Hell, this trade in the 1980s even helped extend Kevin Hart’s current career while putting royalties checks in Chris Tucker’s pockets.
Again, the culture is grateful knowing that what might’ve been, wasn’t.
9. Prince Becomes A Symbol For A New Approach
Prince was everything. He was funk. He was rock and roll. He was the R and the B, both the rhythm and the blues. He was new with old influences but could still make you shake your ass to synth-pop-jazz. What the hell is that? I don’t know. But if Prince played it, it was probably aight.
Prince produced his albums himself, becoming the only important person in Minnesota until Kevin Garnett came to town. The Artist Formerly Known As Prince traded his name for a symbol to gain his freedom.
Purple Rain spent six months on top of the Billboard charts. One of the CDs is probably still in the bottom of a dresser of a moving box, if not in your parent’s CD player for when all the damn kids get out of the house. Yeah, Prince played music even your parents still bump and bang to. And for some of you, Prince has songs your kids are using to make you grandparents.
That’s a symbol for the culture. Prince, after all these years, is still a beacon for both the culturally contemporary and classically inclined senses. The actual symbol he chose may have been inscrutable, but it still sounds damn good.
10. LeBron James Takes His Talents To South Beach, Forms Heatles
Lebron James could not take his talents to South Beach as easily as most people remember it. He had to get Dan Gilbert and David Griffin to trade that talent to Miami. The Miami Heat sent two first-round picks, a 2012 second-round pick (from Pelicans), a future second-round pick (from Thunder), the option to swap a 2012 first-round pick, and a large trade exception ($15 million) to Cleveland in exchange for LeBron James back in 2010. LeBron got his rings, just not as many as initially expected. Same goes for the respect many thought he would get after winning MVP’s, Finals MVP’s, and the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Miami, who hadn’t reached the Finals since 2006, got two rings out of four trips to the NBA Finals.
The Cleveland Cavaliers sank to the bottom of the standings, going from James-led title contenders to holding the first pick in the very next draft.
Cleveland eventually got paid some dividends. The Cavs somehow lottery lucked their way into the first pick for three of the next four years. They brought on Kyrie Irving in 2011 and were able to trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love. The Wiggins-Love deal brought LeBron back to his hometown in 2014. Now with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron in Hollywood is a daily topic on almost every national hoops broadcast.
And Taking One’s Talents is a running meme in the Time of Memes. They changed elections and LeBron opens schools. He will be a force for decades to come.
From Clapton to Rocky to Prince’s future thinking and Back to the Future when Michael J. Fox was starring on big and small screens. Kobe’s Lakers. Jordan’s Bulls, Bird’s Bulls. LeBron’s talents in South Beach and his travels since. Britney bitchin’ out to get her freedom. Snoop’s roll out to the South. These 10 trades have shaped the culture and will influence how future generations express themselves, obvious or not.
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