Running a major sports franchise isn’t something that can be done easily, and if we’re talking about running the entire Association, things can get even way more complicated with the big names in the game constantly making mistakes while trying to make bold decisions.
Of course, when you try to get ahead of the competition or make adjustments ahead to the future for the best of your team or the league, you may either get a home run or just strike out, and those high risk - high reward moves don’t always pay off at the end.
Throughout history, players, general managers and even commissioners have made terrible mistakes, and some of them may have even changed the curse of modern NBA as we fans know it nowadays.
Today, we’re bound to walk you through the 20 worst decisions that have been made regarding the National Basketball Association, so buckle up and try not to throw up in your mouth while you read this.
20. D’Angelo Russell’s Snitching
D’Angelo Russell got to the NBA with a lot of praise coming off a very impressive Ohio State NCAA stint, with Lakers fans looking at him as the answer to their prayers and the guy that could take them back to contention.
But, just a few months into his NBA career, he decided to record his teammate Nick Young when he was admitting to cheat on his then-fiancee Iggy Azalea. Of course, this drew a lot of heat towards Russell’s way, with teammates and colleagues losing all respect for the young prospect. You may say this snitch didn’t get stitches, but being sent to the Nets is just as bad.
19. Kwame Brown
Michael Jordan has to be remembered by his time as a player and for Space Jam, as even him would like to forget about some of the decisions he’s made throughout his Front Office career. Back in 2001, Michael Jordan was entitled to the 1st overall pick when he was running the Washington Wizards, drafting Kwame Brown with it.
While Brown as a major bust and reportedly even cried due to Jordan’s bullying, other players from that Draft like Tyson Chandler or Pau Gasol turned out just fine to say the least.
18. The Knicks Hiring Thomas
Isiah Thomas was one of James Dolan’s (the Knicks majority owner) closest friends, so he held onto the GM spot between 2003 and 2008 to lead the New York Knicks to one of their darkest eras.
Owning a horrid .341 winning percentage (that would be 5th lowest in the team’s history) and some of the most terrible contracts in the history of the franchise, constantly overpaying for busts and a mediocre player, while even facing a sexual harassment scandal.
17. The Jail Blazers
Portland makes our list once again due to their Front Office’s incompetence, as they decided to pair a lot of troublemakers and hard-nosed players in order to become a tough team whose fierce defense could take them to Championship contention.
So, other than Scottie Pippen, Portland also featured Shawn Kemp, Damon Stoudemire, Zach Randolph and Rasheed Wallace, something that ended up in disaster with pretty much everybody on the team facing charges after several scandals.
16. Michael Olowokandi
Yet another major NBA flop makes our list, as the Los Angeles Clippers decided to choose Michael Olowokandi 1st overall in one of the best and more talent loaded NBA Drafts in history.
Averaging just barely over 8 points and 6 boards through his unsuccessful career, it just feels like other choices like Vince Carter, Paul Pierce or Dirk Nowitzki would’ve been better for the Clippers, don’t you think?
15. The Fab Four
The Los Angeles Lakers were desperate to dominate and decided to join their two stars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with Gary Payton and Karl Malone to create the Fab Four, one of the sickest super teams this game has ever seen, at least in the paper.
Truth to be told, these guys never actually developed any kind of chemistry together, with Malone and Bryant constantly going at it, while O’Neal wasn’t much of a fan of Kobe’s attitude either. So, that one year experiment crashed dramatically after being crushed 1-4 by the Pistons in the NBA Finals.
14. The James Harden Trade
Sam Presti has never hesitated to pull the trigger in very risky moves to try and make the Oklahoma City Thunder Championship contenders, and back in the day, he decided to part ways with James Harden in order to clear cap space to keep Ibaka on board.
Of course, the move really paid off, as Ibaka was the main defensive piece of their core, but with Harden playing at an MVP level at this point, it’s pretty safe to wonder what could’ve been had they chosen him instead of the big man.
13. Pulling Guns In The Locker Room
Javaris Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas were known for their difficult temper and not so friendly characters, and putting them both in the same locker room was pretty much a timebomb and thing eventually ended up as bad as you could expect..
So, back then in 2009, things finally escalated to the point that both players pretty much killed their NBA careers, after Gilbert Arenas reportedly bought 4 guns to the Washington Wizards’ locker room to intimidate Crittenton (who also carried a piece of his own) after a card game that took place on a flight from Phoenix.
12. James Dolan’s Arrival
Everybody hates James Dolan’s guts and if you don’t take our word for it, just ask Charles Oakley. See, the New York Knicks have struggled for quite a bit now to go back to their former glory days and Dolan is one of the main reasons why, so definitely one of the worst mistakes in league history was letting him get a say in the first place.
Back then in 1994, Viacom sold MSG Properties to the ITT Corporation and Cablevision, making this guy the team owner and making them a fool of themselves over and over.
11. Trading Dirk Nowitzki
The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t trust an unproven, unathletic big man out of Germany with their 9th overall pick back then in 1998, deciding that Robert “the Tractor” Traylor was better suited for their team.
Needless to say, Nowitzki’s career was... Slightly more significant and successful than the late Traylor’s was, as he’ll go down as a top 5 foreign in NBA history and even a top 10 player at the PF spot, while Robert. Well, he averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 boards.
10. Donald Sterling’s Racist Remarks
Not so long ago, the Los Angeles Clippers became the league’s laughing stock once again, this time because of some poor decisions made by their former owner Donald Sterling.
Sterling was having a discussion with his girlfriend after she posted a photo with Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, making racist comments toward the former point guard. Eventually, the league forced Sterling’s hand to sell the Clippers.
9. Malice In The Palace
The Detroit Pistons recently opened up their new place, saying goodbye to the infamous Palace of Auburn Hills, the place where the biggest brawl in NBA history took place.
When the Indiana Pacers visited the Palace and were bound to take a 5 point lead and the victory, a huge melee took place between players, with a Pistons fan provoking Ron Artest, that eventually wind up fighting some fans as well. In the end, a combined 146 games suspension was handed to the implicants and the fines almost reached the 11 million dollar figure.
8. Greg Oden
Surprise, surprise! The Portland Trail Blazers make our list once again. Not so long ago, Kevin Durant was considered to be a unidimensional player with no defensive upside, being seen as a skinny tweener that was nothing more than a big guy with range.
That poor scouting made the Blazers go with Greg Oden with the 1st overall pick, and even though he looked like he was going to be a major beast, he became one of the league’s biggest flops. Never being to be healthy, Oden’s not even in the league anymore, while Durant’s already got an MVP, a Championship and a Finals MVP under his belt.
7. Tim Donaghy’s Bets
Also in 2007, another really questionable decision was made in the National Basketball Association, with the former NBA referee Tim Donaghy reportedly betting in the very same games he was part of the officiating crew.
Obviously, this scandal took a major toll on the league’s reputation and credibility, and Donaghy was eventually sentenced to 15 months in jail and three years of supervised release.
6. Moving The Sonics From Seattle
After some major issues to try and persuade the state and city government to fund a new sports complex worth over 500 million dollars in Seattle, the new franchise ownership convinced the league to let them move to Oklahoma City.
This move was really harsh on Seattle fans, that created the Save Our Sonics and Storm movement to try and keep their beloved team in the city, while the city itself also fought hard with several lawsuits to try and void the move. Now, one of the game’s best fan bases is left alone without a team.
5. Darko Milicic
In the never-ending list of NBA Draft flops, Darko Milicic has to be at least near the top, and the Detroit Pistons have to be really regretting the moment when they decided to trust their 2nd overall pick in him in what could’ve been a franchise-changing Draft.
Milicic was a major flop and came right after LeBron James and ahead of guys like Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. So yeah, there’s that, Pistons fans.
4. David Stern’ Veto On The CP3 Trade
When the Los Angeles Lakers were keen to go back to Championship contention, it seemed like they were finally ready to go after pulling off a sick blockbuster trade that would’ve gotten a frustrated Chris Paul to the Staples Center, but that was until the then commissioner David Stern decided to veto the move.
When asked about the veto, the league responded that the move was killed for “basketball reasons”, whatever the hell that means.
3. The 1978 NBA Draft
During the NBA Draft, 5 teams decided to pass on one of the biggest legends in the history of the game: Larry Bird. While Larry Legend was drafted 6th overall by the Boston Celtics, guys like Mychal Thompson, Phil Ford, Rock Robey, Michael Ray Richardson and Purvis Short where chosen.
With 3 NBA Championships, 2 Finals MVP, 3 MVPs, 1 Rookie of the Year and many more accolades under his belt, it’s pretty safe to say that Larry was by far the best player of his class and one of the best to ever lace them up.
2. The Kobe Bryant trade
Yeah, some of you may be too young to remember, but there was a brief time during Kobe Bryant’s NBA stint where he wasn’t a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, originally being drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets.
Charlotte immediately dealt the Black Mamba to Los Angeles in exchange for Vlade Divac, a truly bold move that obviously paid off incredibly well to the purple and gold, while the Hornets have to be regretting this move every single day of their lives.
1. Sam Bowie - Michael Jordan
The Portland Trail Blazers have a huge history of screwing things up come NBA Draft night, and Sam Bowie is perhaps the biggest example of this trend (yeah, even more than choosing Oden and passing on Durant).
See, back then in 1984, RIP City was entitled of the 2nd overall pick after the Rockets have decided to draft Hakeem Olajuwon, so Portland used him to get Sam Bowie, just to see Michael Jeffrey Jordan go third to the Chicago Bulls. The rest, as you know, is history.