Another Top 10 Infamous Trades in North American Sports

Script written by Spencer Sher.

Whether they’re blockbuster sports trades, some of the biggest one-sided trades in sports history or just the worst trades in sports history, these deals got people talking. Whether it was a franchise quarterback like Eli Manning refusing to play for the San Diego Chargers, Pedro Martinez being dealt from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Montreal Expos or Derrick Rose Shipping off to the New York Knicks from the Chicago Bulls, these sports deals were controversial. WatchMojo counts down another ten of the most questionable sports trades ever.

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Script written by Spencer Sher.

Another Top 10 Infamous Trades in North American Sports


In sports, not all trades are created equal. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for Another Top 10 Infamous Trades in North American Sports.

For this list, we will be once again looking at North American sports trades that in the moment, or over a period of time, came to be considered infamous for one reason or another.

#10: Wilt Chamberlain
Philadelphia 76ers to Los Angeles Lakers

Famed NBA big man Wilt Chamberlain racked up an impressive number of records and awards while playing for the 76ers – not to mention an NBA title. So it came as quite a surprise when he was dealt to the Lakers in the summer of 1968 for three relative nobodies. It didn’t take long for Chamberlain to adapt to his new team, leading them to five finals appearances in six years. The Sixers, on the other hand, didn’t capture another NBA championship until 1983.

#9: Frank Robinson
Cincinnati Reds to Baltimore Orioles

Though unrelated to MLB color barrier-breaker Jackie, Frank Robinson was a baseball legend himself, becoming the first African-American MLB manager. His playing career was also successful, though he spent his best years with two teams – an unusual feat in the days before free agency. Starting out with Cincinnati in 1956, Robinson was named Rookie of the Year. However, despite his success, and the fact that he took his team to the 1961 World Series, Robinson was shipped to Baltimore ahead of the 1966 season in exchange for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun and Dick Simpson. Guess what happened next: the Orioles won it all that year. And guess who was named series MVP. That’s right: Frank Robinson.

#8: Nolan Ryan
New York Mets to California Angels

Nolan Ryan may have won his only World Series with the Mets, but it was his time in California that showed the baseball world how talented he truly was. Traded in 1971 along with three other players to the Angels in exchange for shortstop Jim Fregosi, Ryan would become an eight-time all-star and record holder for the most strikeouts in MLB history. Fregosi, having struggled with injuries, only played a year and half with the Mets before moving on to the Texas Rangers. Unsurprisingly, the deal has since been considered one of the most lopsided in baseball history.

#7: Derrick Rose
Chicago Bulls to New York Knicks

The winner of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2011, Derrick Rose’s career has been marred by injuries ever since. The first overall pick by his hometown Bulls in 2008, this point guard was seen as the saving grace for a team that struggled mightily ever since the demise of their ‘90s dynasties. However, years of injuries and playoff disappointment led to Rose and forward Justin Holiday to be traded to the Knicks for Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez in June 2016. The big question behind this trade was whether or not Rose could overcome his injuries and return to his winning ways? If so, the Knicks will have easily stolen this trade from the Bulls.

#6: Eli Manning
San Diego Chargers to New York Giants

In the 2004 NFL draft, the San Diego Chargers were poised to select Eli Manning with the first overall pick. However, Manning had publicly stated before the draft that he would not play for the California-based team if they picked him. A deal was then cooked up where the Chargers would take Manning regardless and then ship him to the Giants for their fourth overall pick, quarterback Phillip Rivers. While the Giants clearly won the trade – winning two Super Bowls with Manning – Rivers is nothing to scoff at either. The true controversy in this deal was the flat-out refusal of a big-name prospect to play for a particular team.

#5: Pedro Martínez
Los Angeles Dodgers to Montreal Expos

Sometimes you don’t know what you have till it’s gone. Considered by Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to be too small a pitcher to effectively start in the majors – and in desperate need of a second baseman – Martínez was dealt to the Expos for Delino DeShields before the 1994 season. While DeShields was a solid ball player himself, Martínez was headed for superstardom. In his first season with Montreal, he helped lead the team to a league-best 74-40 record before a players’ strike abruptly ended the season. In 1997, after compiling a record of 17-8, Martinez became the first Expo to win the Cy Young award as the National League’s best pitcher – proving size doesn’t always matter.

#4: Joe Montana
San Francisco 49ers to Kanas City Chiefs

After missing the entire 1991 season and much of the 1992 season, legendary quarterback Joe Montana was itching to get back on the field. However, the 49ers had found a strong replacement for the veteran QB in Steve Young. While Montana was a hero in San Fran – leading the team to four Super Bowl titles – Young had earned the respect of fans and teammates in his absence. A rift quickly opened up in the locker room, causing “Joe Cool” to request a trade. He was dealt to the Kansas City Chiefs in the spring of 1993. Young led the 49ers to a Super Bowl soon after, while the closest thing Montana would get was the AFC Championship game in ’93.

#3: Julius Erving
New York Nets to Philadelphia 76ers

When the New York Nets of the ABA merged with the NBA at the start of the 1976-77 season, they brought with them one of the most dominant small forwards to ever hit the court. In five ABA seasons, Erving won two championships, three MVP awards and three scoring titles. After the team went back on their promise to raise his salary, things between Erving and the Nets soured. This prompted the team to “sell” him to the 76ers for $3 million - but not before the Knicks passed on picking up Erving’s contract. Dr. J flourished with his new squad, leading them to an NBA championship in 1983, while the Nets remain without a title to this day.

#2: Scottie Pippen
Seattle SuperSonics to Chicago Bulls

Drafted fifth overall by the SuperSonics in the 1987 NBA draft, Pippen was quickly traded to the Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice and future draft picks. While Polynice carved out a respectable 15-year career in the league, it was Pippen who became a legend. Together with Michael Jordan, Pippen and the Bulls went on to win six NBA championships, with Pippen winning numerous awards along the way. With Pippen ultimately proving himself to be a tremendous defender, we have to imagine that if the SuperSonics had it all to do over again, they wouldn’t have been so quick to let Scottie go.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Milwaukee Bucks to Los Angeles Lakers

- Marshall Faulk
Indianapolis Colts to St. Louis Rams

- Jeff Bagwell
Boston Red Sox to Houston Astros

#1: Patrick Roy
Montreal Canadiens to Colorado Avalanche

Having established himself as one of the NHL’s premier goalies, Patrick Roy was less than thrilled when ex-teammate Mario Tremblay became his head coach early in the 1995-96 season. Tensions boiled over during a game in which Tremblay refused to pull Roy from the net even after he allowed five goals in a single period. When Roy was finally pulled, he immediately demanded to be traded. The result was one of the most lopsided deals in NHL history: the Habs shipped Roy and captain Mike Keane to Colorado for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. The Avalanche went on to win two Cups with Roy in net. The Habs, on the other hand, are still waiting and are still trading away their franchise players. *Cough* P.K. Subban *Cough*

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite infamous sports trade? For more entertaining Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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