When it comes to the NBA in the
legendary words of Kevin Garnett anything is possible and to be fair it’s
true in the NBA nothing and I mean nothing is truly as it seems
while the league is home to the extraordinary unbelievable
legendary and so on and so forth the truth is that it is also home of some of
the more stranger events in sports history
take for example NBA trades throughout its many years of operation we have
witnessed some questionable deals take place
you see NBA trades can sometimes become a complex game of patience that can
often spark the craziest deals in 1983 the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana
Pacers embarked on trade discussions that will result in what many believe is
the strangest deal in NBA history welcome to NBA insider many NBA fans today may recognize Miami
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra as being largely synonymous with the big 3 era of
the franchise back when Dwayne Wade LeBron James and Chris Bosh were part of
the back-to-back championship organization however there’s a lot of
history behind this man that we seldom hear about take for example did you know
he is the first ever Asian Americans to be the head coach of not only an NBA
championship team but any team in the four major sport leagues in North
America including the MLB NHL and NFL to add to this his loyalty is unheard of
for starters Erik Spoelstra’s career as a head coach has been spent entirely
within the Miami Heat organization from a video coordinator back in 1995 to now
a head coach his dedication to the team is so powerful to the extent that he is
even married to a former Miami Heat cheerleader despite all of these
outstanding feats what if I was to tell you that it is not in there for those of
you who don’t know Erik Spoelstra is not the only member of his family with ties
to sports in fact he is just the third generation his grandfather Watson
Spoelstra was a sports journalist who worked just under 30 years for the
Detroit Tigers from 1945 through 1973 then there’s John Spoelstra Watson
Spoelstra’s only son and you guessed it the father of Erik Spoelstra he also
happens to be the centerpiece of our story from a young age
John was exposed to the world of sports by his father in 1970 four years after
graduating from Notre Dame Spoelstra founded his first marketing
company known as the new school of youth marketing and other phenomena in the mid
1970s his company obtained the rights to organize Notre Dame basketball games for
$2,000 per game John’s NBA career first began in 1977 when the
Buffalo Braves now known as the Los Angeles Clippers would hire him as the
vice president of marketing as the new VP one of the biggest tasks he was
assigned was to prevent a relocation of the Braves
despite succeeding for 10 months the team would eventually be moved to San
Diego and be renamed as the San Diego Clippers in 1979 after brief success
with the franchise Spoelstra skills will be noticed by Larry Weinberg the owner
of the Portland Trail Blazers at the time Weinberg would immediately hire
Spoelstra as their general manager and senior vice president easily his best
decision as an owner you see Spoelstra was already known throughout the
sporting realm as a marketing genius this was the same man who was credited
with having pioneered a number of concepts that are now common in the NBA
such as in-house radio television coverage for individual teams selling
sponsorship for advertisement that will be placed inside NBA arenas and giving
out rewards to fans in attendance if the home team met certain goals such as
scoring 100 points or more in the game this was a man who could clearly think
outside the box with the addition of Spoelstra both Larry Weinberg and the
Portland Trailblazers were on their way to scraping in millions of dollars
through ticket sales in fact during his 10 years as a dedicated front office
executive for the Blazers there wasn’t a single game that wasn’t sold out never
in the history of professional sports has a major American city opened its
heart as readily to an athletic team as Portland did despite all of his
marketing genius John Spoelstra’s magic moment wouldn’t come until 1983 just
four years after joining the Trailblazers when his expertise will
help the team pull off what many people still considered to this day to be the
strangest tree the NBA has ever witnessed our story first takes place
during the 1982 1983 NBA season the Portland Trail Blazers were part of a
collection of unexceptional teams who seemed to be stuck with no apparent
success the team was in fact performing so horribly that they had an average of
40 wins per season just a few months into the season and they were already
holding a disappointing record of 21 and 15 to top it all despite the fact that
the team had legends such as Clyde Drexler
Michael Thompson and point guard positions filled by fellow teammates
Darnell Valentine and fat lever their leading scorer was Jim Paxson as if that
wasn’t bad enough following a stroke of injury and bad luck the Blazers will
find themselves in need of one who could run the offense playmate
and guard the perimeter and what was better than a play making point guard
despite their desperate need to obtain a quality lead guard the Trailblazers
couldn’t afford to part ways with any of their rotation players in comes John
Spoelstra the senior vice president and general manager sprang into action and
began working his magic you see John already had just the player in mind that
player was none other than Don Busey a veteran defense minded ball handler who
could score if necessary he was also a two-time all-star with six all defensive
team selections and a championship beneath his belt at the time he was
playing for the Indiana Pacers a team that was just six seasons old but had
already managed to make so many mistakes and was headed towards an ultimate end
in fact since joined the NBA the Pacers had only one winning season they also
managed to make some horrible decisions along the way when they traded away
Adrian Dantley just three months after acquiring him giving up Alex English and
a first-round pick for George McGinnis and trading another first-round pick in
the Jordan draft for a guy who was out of the league two years later the Pacers
owner at the time Sam nasi knew it was time to cut his
losses this was no surprise considering almost every team in the league – the
Blazers was losing money so by 1983 Sam decided to enter the market in search of
a buyer for the team but who in their right mind would want to purchase a team
that was losing money more than it was making and without any star prospect or
potential to build around you guessed it John Spoelstra where everyone saw
impossibility Jon Spoelstra saw opportunity John decided to develop a
deal in which he would ship himself to the Indiana Pacers for a couple weeks of
his marketing expertise in exchange for 32 year old Don Busey to come play for
the Blazers of course the Pacers would end up taking the deal this was a
one-of-a-kind arrangement that nobody has saw coming as if that wasn’t crazy
enough John still somehow managed to gain an advantage for both teams within
a week he had found what everyone had thought was impossible for the Pacers a
buyer four months later Jon would end up officially selling the team to Herbert
and Melvin Simon one of which is still an owner to this day the Trailblazers on
the other hand would end up receiving the player they
desired Don busi will go on to play 41 games for Portland averaging four point
seven points two points two assists and one point one steals while coming off
the bench the franchise will go on to make the NBA playoffs but would
eventually lose to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference
semifinals in just five games John himself would speak in regards to the
trade saying it hadn’t been done before and it hasn’t been done since when you
take a look at it I think Portland got the better end of the deal in 1989 after
spending ten years with the Portland Trail Blazers John Spoelstra would
officially resign but now before implementing clever marketing tactics
which contributed to increasing the team’s home game attendance from last in
the league when he first arrived to one of the best in the NBA not only had he
managed to acquire a star player in exchange for one week of his time as a
management consultant but he somehow did it all without spending a single player
draft pick or dollar if that isn’t impressive I don’t know what is I doubt
we will ever see anything as mythical as this again however in the end this will
still go down as one of the strangest traders in NBA history