Every basketball superstar desires for a NBA championship. It not only cements their legacy, but it also allows them to place themselves among the best in history. However, achieving this is feat is easier said than done given the highly competitive landscape of the NBA.
In the past, we’ve seen various elite players overcome the tough competition by winning championships with their original teams. However, another way for stars to win the elusive NBA ring is to join a championship contender to team-up with another elite superstar or two.
Just recently, we’ve seen James Harden leave the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving via a major blockbuster trade early into the 2020-2021 season. There is no doubt that this is a championship team on paper. However, it remains to be seen whether or not The Beard can finally win a ring with this super team.
Fortunately for him, in the past, we’ve seen various stars win a championship immediately after getting traded to a new team. For this piece, let’s take a look at six superstars that Harden can follow suit.
1. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett was the face of the franchise in his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 14 seasons with the team, he led the team with averages of 19.8 points and 11.0 boards per game and was even crowned the League MVP in 2004. However, this never resulted into a championship as frustration grew for Garnett after the team’s repeated failure to make deep playoff runs. As a result, Garnett was eventually traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007 in exchange for Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and two first round draft picks. It is worth noting that this would be the largest trade in NBA history, where seven players were traded for a lone player.
Garnett would find greener pastures with the Boston Celtics, as he formed the Celtics Big Three with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. KG’s defense and energy were immediately felt as he helped power Boston to its 17th overall championship in 2008 when the Celtics outlasted the Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles Lakers in six games during the NBA Finals. With this, just a season in with Boston at that time, KG won his first and only NBA championship.
2. Ray Allen
Like KG, Ray Allen was also part of the Celtics Big Three that captured the NBA championship in 2008. Allen was also one of the high profile players that the Celtics acquired in 2007. After starring for the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Supersonics, Allen (and Glen Davis) were eventually traded by the Supersonics to Boston in exchange for Delonte West, Wally Szcerbiak, and Jeff Green.
The 6’5 all-star guard was a major factor in bringing down the Lakers in the NBA Finals, with his deadly outside sniping. Allen would set the record for most threes in a Finals series by making 21 from beyond the arc at that time. Furthermore in the championship clinching game, he would nail seven three point shots, which was tied at that time for the most three point makes in a single Finals game. Allen would also finish the series by shooting 52% from downtown. Thus, cementing his legacy as one of the best shooters in NBA history.
3. Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman was a rebounding machine in his days with the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs. In his stint with the Pistons and Spurs, Rodman garnered two NBA championships, All-Star selections, All-NBA Team selections, All-Defensive Team honors, and League Leader in Rebounds. Although Rodman had multiple accolades at that time, he became a locker room headache in his stint with the Spurs. According to CBS Sports, his notorious off-court behavior resulted in fines and suspensions. Furthermore, his contract was an additional liability for the Spurs.
While Rodman was having problems with his teammates and management, the Chicago Bulls needed to shore up their frontline after Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright signed with other teams. As a result, the Bulls traded away backup center Will Perdue for Rodman in 1995 which in hindsight turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades in league history. Fortunately, this only benefitted Rodman and the Bulls.
Rodman would immediately make an impact and go on to average 5.4 points and 11.3 points per game in his three season stint with the Chicago Bulls. But more importantly, he would also take part in the Michael Jordan and the Windy City’s second edition of the three-peat from 1996 to 1998. Thus, increasing his personal NBA ring total to five after getting traded by the Spurs.
4. Marc Gasol
If there was a player that made immediate impact, it was Marc Gasol. Marc, the younger brother of Lakers star Pau Gasol, was the face of the Memphis Grizzlies for 11 seasons. As the Grizzlies’ main anchor in the paint, the Spanish center established himself as one of the premiere big men in the league as he collected three All-Star selections, All-NBA Team honors, and the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Although Gasol has successfully led Memphis in pulling upsets against tough rivals in the San Antonio Spurs, Lob City Los Angeles Clippers, and the Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City Thunder, the team never made it to the Finals. With Gasol rumored choosing not to sign an extension, the Grizzlies made a move by shipping their Spanish star to eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors, midway through the 2018-2019 season in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and a 2024 second round pick.
Gasol’s production would take a huge dip in his stint with Toronto. However, he was a crucial factor in the Raptors’ conquest of its first ever NBA championship. With the Golden State Warriors’ thin frontline, the 6’11 center took advantage and anchored the paint while also acting as a facilitating big man. In the Finals, Gasol averaged 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game en-route to his first and only NBA championship so far.
5. Kawhi Leonard
The Klaw established himself as one of the premiere forwards in the league, when he won the NBA Finals MVP in 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs, as he helped ended the reign of LeBron James and the rest of the Heat’s Big Three. However, Leonard became unhappy with how the Spurs organization handled his quad injury that he suffered in the 2017 Playoffs. With the Spurs’ star no longer happy, the team traded Kawhi Leonard alongside Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors during the 2018 offseason for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a first round pick which against the former Spurs’ star wishes.
Although Leonard wasn’t all too happy to be in Toronto, he still managed to lead the team to the franchise’s first ever championship. In the process, the Raptors got past Eastern Conference Rivals in the Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks including an iconic game winning shot by Leonard in Game 7 against the Sixers during the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals. But more importantly, The Klaw would also help deny and upset the Warriors a three-peat in the NBA Finals, as he averaged 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game to take home his second NBA Finals MVP trophy.
6. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is no question one of the premiere big men in the league today. With his combination of size and talent, he was the immediate face of the franchise when New Orleans drafted him in 2012. His seven seasons in New Orleans saw him bring in All-Star nods, All-NBA Teams, and All-Defensive Team selections. Although Davis would help take the Pelicans to two postseason appearances, his desire to win a championship grew larger as his playing years went by. Thus, this resulted to the Pelicans trading Davis to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first round draft picks.
As we all know, Davis would win his first NBA championship last season in just his first stint with the team. Alongside LeBron James, they formed an unstoppable one-two punch that couldn’t be stopped by opposing teams. Davis averaged 26.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during the season. Furthermore, the 6’10 big man was also responsible for helping the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals when he nailed the game winning three point shot against the Denver Nuggets in Game two of the Western Conference Finals. As a result, Davis made a case as the best player James has ever played with in his career.