Being drafted to play in any major competitive sports league must be something wonderful for anybody, as many people dream of that when they’re kids. It must be a dream come true to play as a pro, but sometimes there are people that aren’t that pleased after draft day. There have been several cases in other sports, but the NBA is not exempt from these practices.
Professional sports are full of ego as much as they are of talent -or even more-, and this list is an example of that. Imagine having expectations on draft night and ended up being drafted by a shitty team from a city that you didn’t even know that existed.
Well, we are about to see some of those cases -or similar. These are 9 basketball players who refused to play for the teams that originally drafted them.
9. Royce White
White is one of those cases like Greg Oden where you wonder “what if?” and don’t see a clear answer. This guy was expected to be really great for the Houston Rockets a couple of seasons ago, but White spent more time struggling with personal issues than playing on the court.
Royce was selected by Houston as the 16th overall pick in 2012, but after expressing his concerns about the lack of mental health policy within the NBA since he publicly spoke about his General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) diagnosed during his season in college with Iowa State. White had to miss his rookie season due to that and never was able to play in the NBA. Right now he’s 26 years old and is currently playing in Canada, trying to overcome his issues and go back to the big stage.
8. Jon Barry
Jon Barry has received plenty of hate and criticism throughout his 14-year career in the Association and if you look closely, people might have a point. However, Barry made the list for other reasons, and curiously, with the Boston Celtics, too.
Coming out of Georgia Tech, Barry was selected by the Boston Celtics in 1992, but he refused to sign a contract and sat out for season instead. Finally, the Celtics decided to trade Barry’s rights and the shooting guard took them to Milwaukee, where he played his first three years in the Association, being unable to have a decent season.
7. Brian Shaw
This one just like Rubio’s is a different case. Brian Shaw indeed played with Boston, but he took his time in order to do so and see what the world had to offer him. Back in 1988, Shaw signed a two-year deal with the II Messaggero Roma before making his comeback to the big leagues.
After that, he finally played with the Boston Celtics before playing for various teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat among others. Shaw is currently working with the Lakers, but many people –mostly Celtics fans- remember him for that tenure in Italy.
6. Billy Owens
There was only a winner in this history and that time it was the Sacramento Kings. During the beginning of the 90’s, the Kings weren’t precisely the most attractive team to play -nor they are now-, and Billy Owens made sure to let them know that since the forward refused to with the Western squad.
Eventually, the Kings traded Owens to the Golden State Warriors for Les Jepsen and Mitch Richmond. Richmond became a very good player in Sacramento, playing in six All-Star games during the seven seasons he spent with the Kings.
5. Kiki Vandeweghe
Alright, here is the guy that is currently fining and suspending NBA players, Kiki Vandeweghe. Kiki was originally drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in 1980 as the 11th overall pick but seeing the team in which he was going to play, he refused to do it.
Vandeweghe and his decision lasted into the first month of the season until the team decided to trade him to the Denver Nuggets for two future first-round picks, Rolando Blackman and Sam Perkins. Vandeweghe had a 13-year tenure in the league, being booed every time he went to Dallas.
4. Steve Francis
Francis arrived at the Association during the 1999 NBA draft, being drafted as the second overall pick by the Vancouver Grizzlies. As soon as the Grizzlies announced the pick, Francis didn’t hesitate to show his discontent with his new destination. He quickly demanded a trade, citing distance from hometown Maryland, taxes and several other reasons as the responsible of his decision.
Steve eventually left the team thanks to an 11-player trade that sent him to the Houston Rockets. Francis has a stay of nine years in the association, winning the Rookie of the Year award and playing in three All-Star games.
3. Ricky Rubio
Perhaps this never happened, but Ricky was almost about to emulate the other guys on this list. According to several rumors. Back in the day, the Spaniard point guard manifested his intentions to play in California, not in Memphis or Oklahoma City.
Rubio even didn’t want to want to “pay money out of his own pocket with his huge buyout” according to his agent. Ricky ended up going to Minnesota and now is part of the Utah Jazz, so nothing happened like he expected to.
2. Dominique Wilkins
This selection could have been something good in the long term for the Utah Jazz, as they picked Dominique Wilkins as the third overall pick in the NBA 1982 draft, but Wilkins started to show his doubts about his future -if there were any- with the Jazz.
Due to financial issues, they had to let Wilkins go to the Atlanta Hawks where he became a superstar. The real question was what would have happened if Wilkins stuck with the Jazz and teamed up with Karl Malone and John Stockton a couple of years later. That would have been a hell of a team.
1. Kobe Bryant
There are several rumors about this topic, but they only thing we know is that Kobe didn’t play for the team that originally drafted him: the Charlotte Hornets. Rumors say that in the 1996 NBA draft, Kobe’s agent Arn Tellem stated that there was no way of Kobe playing for the Hornets.
Bryant was selected as the 13th overall pick that night but was immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and the rest is history. Bryant became one of the most spectacular and best players in NBA history with the Lakers while the Hornets were and are still trying to be an actual contender in the league.