When the Memphis Grizzlies traded their All-Star center Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, it sent shock waves throughout the NBA and left many scratching their heads. How could Memphis practically give away a star-caliber player?
The trade changed the landscape of the Western Conference, the Lakers went on to win a couple of NBA titles and one of the most vocal on the Gasol trade was San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich who did not hold back when asked his thoughts on the trade:
“What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension,” Popovich said at the time. “There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I would have voted no to the L.A. trade.”
However, if we take a stroll back in time to 1987, the Spurs made a trade with the Lakers which helped Los Angeles. San Antonio sent center Mychal Thompson – for cash – which in turn helped propel Los Angeles to the NBA Finals to battle the Boston Celtics’ frontline of Kevin McHale, Larry Bird and Robert Parish.
Thompson averaged 10 points and four rebounds off the bench for Los Angeles, and gave McHale all he could handle on the defensive end.
One of the more vocal proponents against the Spurs’ trade was Larry Bird:
“If San Antonio needed money, we would’ve sent them money. But to go and help the Lakers like that is just terrible.”
Though the trade wasn’t made on Pop’s watch, and the centers involved were not on the same level, it just goes to show you that Memphis isn’t the only team guilty of helping the Lakers.