Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Every pro sports transaction ever made - in one place

Think the Lakers can land Carmelo by trading Artest?
It's time to trade Pau Gasol! So sick of watching how weak he is out there!
Could Mitch somehow get Kwame back as a good backup center?
Fisher, Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Artest must go!

Some of the things you'd read on Lakers message boards these days. Like fans of every team in every sport, Lakers fans love conjuring up possible trades when their favorite squad struggles. Rage fuels many of the trade ideas, along with that unique overconfidence that oozes off of guys who have won their fantasy football league three years running. Hey, they figure, if I can outwit six of my old frat buddies, my idiot brother-in-law and Joe from accounting, why can't I come up with a trade idea that will spark the Lakers to a three-peat while also adhering to concerns about the collective bargaining agreement and team chemistry?

While looking up some old trade info, I stumbled upon the type of site that could hold a sports fan prisoner for days.

It's a no-frills site, at least as far as design. But the content is incredible. Since the 2004, the site has attempted to index every transaction that's ever taken place in pro sports. Basketball and hockey are the most complete, the site says. Football and baseball aren't quite as complete, simply because there are so many more players - and in the case of baseball, years - involved. It's an ambitious, if not insane, endeavor. But completely fascinating.

Take the basketball entries. You can search every coach and executive by name, to see all the deals every GM's been involved with. You can search the all-time injured list, or every DNP due to personal reasons. You can search by team and by year. Or you can search all of them, all 1,518 pages worth of transactions. Some tidbits:

The first transaction recorded on the site? The Knicks hired Mike Saunders as the assistant to player care, in 1899 (who was the director of player care?). The same day the Knicks hired Saunders, they drafted Gene Berce. Or did they? Gene Berce, at least the one who played for the Knicks, was born in 1926. Drafted 27 years before he was born. And Celtics fans think Red Auerbach did a great job of looking ahead when he drafted Bird a year before he entered the draft. Not sure what's going on with Jumpin' Gene.

Red makes an appearance of his own on the first page. The BAA's Capitols inked Auerbach to a one-year deal for $5,000 in 1946.

On July 27, 1947, the Pittsburgh Ironmen - who went 15-45 in their only year in the BAA - folded. Press Maravich - Pistol's old man - was one of the players "relinquished" by the Ironmen. In his one year of pro ball, Press shot 27 percent from the field. He hit 51 percent of his free throws and had a McHale-like six assists in 51 games. Press turned Pete - who was born a month before the Ironmen went under - into a basketball genius but he thankfully didn't give Pete his shooting touch or passing eye.

It's easy to see the beginning of the Celtics dynasty when paging through the transactions. The team signed Red to a two-year deal in April of 1950. A few months later, they acquired Bob Cousy in a dispersal draft, for $8,500. However, the site doesn't list the first time Red fired up a victory cigar, or the first time an opposing player or coach dreamed of shoving it down his throat or up somewhere else.

To the Timberwolves...

The team hired Bob Stein as president on June 15, 1987, and Bill Musselman as its first coach a year later. In the expansion draft, the Wolves picked up David Rivers, Brad Lohaus, Eric White, Gunther Behnke, Mark Davis, Maurice Martin, Rick Mahorn, Scott Roth, Tyrone Corbin and a handful of others. They drafted Pooh Richardson and, regrettably, Gary Leonard. The transactions don't get any better from there.

Back to the Lakers. In 1976, the Lakers received compensation when the Jazz signed an aging Gail Goodrich. LA received a first-round pick in 1977, a first-round pick in 1979 and a second-round pick in 1980, which they used on Sam Worthen. In 1977, the Lakers picked Kenny Car. In 1979 they drafted Magic Johnson with the pick, which happened to be the first one in the draft. Goodrich averaged 12, 16 and 12 points per game in his three years with the Jazz and was out of the league by the time Magic filled in for Kareem in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals. This is the type of trade current Lakers fan dream of when they suggest dealing Joe Smith for Dwight Howard.

In another move that turned out well a few years later, in 1980 the Lakers acquired Butch Lee and a first-round pick in 1982 from the Cavaliers, in exchange for Don Ford and the first-round pick in '80. The Lakers ended up with the No. 1 pick in 1982 and took James Worthy. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, went 23-59 in 1984, became respectable in 1985 under George Karl, excelled in the late '80s with Mark Price and Brad Daugherty, got crushed by Jordan's Shot in 1989, staggered through much of the 1990s, went to the Finals in 2007, lost LeBron in 2010 and are on their way to breaking their own record for most consecutive defeats by an NBA team. So the trade didn't work out well for Cleveland, although Don Ford did average 3 points per game in 1981.

Cleveland suffered through a lot of strange years under strange owner Ted Stepien. But 1982 had to be one of the oddest. The team went 15-67 - which gave the Lakers the top pick - and went through four coaches. Bill Musselman went 2-21, Chuck Daly went 9-32, Bob Kloppenburg went 0-3 and Don Delaney finished 4-11. Kloppenburg got another chance to coach 10 years later, when he took over the Sonics in 1992. He went 2-2.

For fans of the American - and Stern - legal system, you can also search legal and criminal incidents. The first one noted on the site, though surely not the first time a pro basketball player ran afoul of the law, is from 1970, when Rich Johnson of the Celtics was arraigned in court on a charge of passing counterfeit $10 bills.

In 1971, Al Bianchi, Charlie Scott and Jim Eakins of the ABA's Virginia Squires were all found guilty of assault and battery and fined for their roles in a fight on December 23.

September 1988 was a bad time for a pair of Nets. Dwayne Washington was arrested for cocaine possession on September 26, while a day later, Duane Washington - different player - was arrested for possession after being found with several vials of coke.

And I never remember seeing this on the Come Fly With Me videos, but in 1989 Michael Jordan was cited for driving 90 miles per hour and not having a driver's license.

Yes, the site has everything. You can see the rise of the Celtics and Lakers and the demise of the Timberwolves and Cavaliers. You can look at the genius of Auerbach and the folly of Stepien. You can see Kareem being cited for pot possession. But I'd still like an explanation for Gene Berce.

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