What if the Spurs had accepted Seattleâ€™s offer of Shawn Kemp for the #1 pick in the 1997 draft (and the right to draft Tim Duncan)?Â Would the Sonics still be in Seattle?Â Would Duncan still have risen to the top as the gameâ€™s greatest-4-ever without the tailor-made-for-a-title-veteran-infrastructure he found already in place with the Spurs?Â Or would a â€˜still in his primeâ€™ GP have been enough for similar results?Â Would we revere him as highly without the front office that provided Parker and Manu when Sean Elliott and David Robinson moved on?
What if the Lakers and Raptors had decided to pull the trigger on the much rumored deal centered around Eddie Jones and Tracy McGrady?Â Would Kobeâ€™s growth have been stunted or is the creamâ€™s rise inevitable?Â What if the Lakers had actually gotten talent in return for Elden Campbell and Eddie Jones instead of what soon became the corpse of Glen Rice?Â Would that first three-peat club have been even more dominant or was the stripping of young talent a necessary condition to Shaq and Kobeâ€™s growing into their eventual roles?
What if Toni Braxton had never heard of Dallas?Â Would the â€œThree-J Offenseâ€ have enjoyed success?Â Would Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn be remembered as more than just footnotes on the 90sâ€™ page in history?Â Maybe Kidd would be esteemed like Nash will ten years from now, as the linchpin of the deadliest offense of his era.Â Is Jason Kidd the most underrated point guard in league history – consistently elite [through his prime], but never the very best (Payton, Nash, CP3)?
What if Jordan had just simply never come back?Â Would he still be revered as historyâ€™s greatest with just 3?Â Or would the premature end add to his mystique as it does for so many young entertainers?Â Where would Pippen have been dealt and how would that have affected the leagueâ€™s power structure?Â Maybe the Rockets and Bulls would have revisited discussions from â€˜93 allowing Houston to add to their Drexler/Olajuwon core and Dream would have been, with more hardware, seen today as the legend he truly was rather than just some Gandolph â€œelderâ€ figure for todayâ€™s stars.
What if the Wolves had just kept Ray Allen instead of dealing him for Georgia Techâ€™s Stephon Marbury?Â With greater success early on, would Kevin Garnett not suffer from his current complex or would he still find prey in point guards and Euro big-men?Â Or would these two beta-achievers still have needed the help Paul Pierce brings them in a collective effort?
What if there had been no Allen Iverson?Â Was the playgroundâ€™s manifestation in the association a historical inevitability or was Iverson the triggering point?Â Has there been a more culturally iconic go-to move/accessory than Iverson’s â€œcrossoverâ€ dribble? – emulated and sanctified by devotees, yet banned from professional play and scorned by purists.
What if Dirk hadnâ€™t missed the free throw that allowed the Heat to win Game 3 and get back into the series?Â It can be argued that without that chokejob, there would be no â€œBig 3â€ in Miami.Â Consider: had the Mavs held on to win, taking a commanding 0-3 lead, they likely go on to take the title.Â Without the experience of that championship, itâ€™s probable that Wade isnâ€™t as patient with Heat management as he was these past few years, sticking things out with a weak supporting cast through faith in the greater plan.Â Even if he doesnâ€™t demand a trade, does he stay as loyal to the Heat this offseason remaining firm as the sole superstar with unwavering desire to remain with his current team?Â Is Riley as appealing to Lebron–despite the titles with the Lakers–without the ring won through building the Heat?