An unusual story surfaced as the ESPN Bad Boys Documentary aired on Thursday night. While speaking on behalf of his Detroit Pistons, former general manager Jack McCloskey admitted to proposing a deal which would send the entire Pistons’ roster to the Los Angeles Lakers in return for just Magic Johnson. Quite the lopsided deal if you ask me.
It is not a very common occurrence for a franchise to offer their entire team for one player, but it goes to show how valuable and extraordinary a player Johnson was. Drafted No. 1 overall in 1979, Johnson was a highly-coveted prospect coming off a dominant victory over future rival Larry Bird. Luckily, Los Angeles possessed the top pick, allowing them to earn the rights to the Hall of Famer. Johnson was instantly able to catapult the Lakers to championship contention as the team became victors of the 1980 NBA Finals.
Contrarily, during this same time period, the Detroit Pistons were an absolutely terrible team. Detroit struggled to earn 20 wins in back-to-back seasons, so offering the entire team for one superstar player actually makes some sense. Luckily for each side, though, no deal ever was completed. The Pistons would go onto draft Isaiah Thomas and build a powerhouse team known as the Bad Boys across the country. Over the span of this era, Detroit won two championships in the late 80s. So, if a deal did indeed occur, the NBA landscape as we know it would be totally different.
Alongside the Boston Celtics, the Lakers were the dominant force during the 1980s known as the “Showtime Era.” Who knows how Johnson’s career would have panned out if he was traded to his hometown Pistons. It is worth noting, Detroit did put an end to the Showtime era with a convincing NBA Finals victory over Los Angeles in 1989. I would say, though, everything worked out after all as the 80s were the prime time for NBA basketball.