Over the last five decades or so, the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets (not to mention New York Nets) have traded for numerous Hall of Famers, All-Stars and other notable players. So if and when Carmelo Anthony comes to town, whether it's Manhattan or Newark, he would join a litany of legends that have swooped into the area. Some helped win championships, others came close and a few just didn't quite work out at all. Here's a chronological rundown of many of the high-profile acquisitions. We're not including free agents (sorry, Allan Houston), but we will count players that were sold to the Knicks or Nets (just so we can have Dr. J on the list).
On October 14, 1965, the Knicks traded Bob Boozer to the Lakers for guard Dick Barnett, which turned out to be the first of a handful of deals that helped the team win two championships. The sleepy-eyed Barnett averaged 23.1 points per game in his first season with the Knicks, went on to play nine seasons with the team and made the All-Star team in 1968. Known for his leg-kicking, lefty jump shot, Barnett also once played for the American Basketball League's Cleveland Pipers, who were owned by George Steinbrenner. The biggest trade the champion-era Knicks made was acquiring Dave DeBusschere from the Pistons on December 19, 1968, for Walt Bellamy and Howard Komives. The power forward was the classic "final piece of the puzzle." DeBusschere was an eight-time All-Star in his career, was elected to the Hall of Fame and all the while looked like somebody's barbecuing, beer-drinking dad chugging up and down the court.
Meanwhile in the ABA, on September 1, 1970, the New York Nets swapped a draft pick and $200,000 to the Virginia Squires (formerly Washington Caps, formerly Oakland Oaks) for future Hall of Famer Rick Barry. In his first season with the Nets, Barry averaged 29.4 points as he led his team all the way to the ABA finals. The Nets were the Cinderella story of the year, defeating the Kentucky Colonels, who had finished 24 games ahead of the Nets in the standings, in the first round and the Julies Erving-led Squires in the next round before falling to the Pacers in the finals. Barry threw in 31.5 points per game in the following season before jumping back to the NBA and the Golden State Warriors.
After winning the 1970 Championship, the Knicks added two more future Hall of Famers. On May 7, 1971, they traded Cazzie Russell to the Warriors for Jerry Lucas. The veteran forward often filled in at center for the injured Willis Reed and came off the bench when Reed was in the starting lineup. Later that year, the Knicks dealt for yet another Hall of Famer in Earl Monroe, only giving up Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth and cash to the Baltimore Bullets. There were questions about potential chemistry with Walt Frazier, but the man of many nicknames (Earl the Pearl, Black Magic, Jesus) and even more moves and spins on the court fit in seamlessly with Clyde and they won the 1973 Championship while forming the coolest backcourt duo in NBA history.
The Nets struck again before the '73 season, when they bought the greatest player in ABA history from the Squires--Dr. J. Erving played three seasons with the Nets, leading them to two ABA Championships (he was named playoff MVP both years), led the league in scoring twice, was named season MVP twice and won the first-ever Slam Dunk contest in the 1976 ABA All-Star Game, which you can watch here (along with David Thompson, George Gervin and Larry Kenon). Unfortunately, when the Nets joined the NBA, the Knicks charged them a $4.8 million territorial rights fee and the Nets had to sell Dr. J to the 76ers just to survive.
The next round of luminaries who came to the Knicks and Nets weren't as successful as the previous transactions. After the championship era for the Knicks wound down, they traded for Spencer Haywood in 1975 and Bob McAdoo the following season. Both were sensations in their previous stops, Haywood leading the ABA in scoring and rebounding in his debut season with the Denver Rockets while winning the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards and then becoming a perennial All-Star with the Supersonics and McAdoo also winning Rookie of the Year and MVP awards and leading the league in scoring in his days with the Buffalo Braves. Injuries, drugs and an aging/less-than-stellar roster proved to be the downfall of the late-'70s Knicks. In 1976, the Nets made a trade with the Kansas City Kings for Hall of Famer Nate Archibald, who was suppose to team up with Dr. J for a dynamic duo, but injuries befell Tiny, who only played 34 games for the Nets before he was traded the next season to Buffalo/San Diego, who then dealt him to the Celtics.
After the drafting of Patrick Ewing made Bill Cartwright expendable, the Knicks sent the center along with a couple draft picks to Chicago for Charles Oakley and a pair of Bulls draft picks in 1988. Oakley became the heart and soul of the Knicks for the next decade. He epitomized the physical persona of the team, was a rebounding machine, helped the Knicks make it all the way to the 1994 finals and made the All-Star team that season. Three more successful 1990s acquisitions came in the form of Larry Johnson, Marcus Camby and Latrell Sprewell, who all played on the underdog 1999 Knicks.
The Aughts saw the Nets deal for franchise-changing point guard Jason Kidd. On July 18, 2001, he came to New Jersey with Chris Dudley in exchange for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake. Just getting rid of team-cancer Marbury was a winning situation in and of itself, but getting Kidd in return? Genius. Kidd led the Nets to their only NBA finals appearances in his first two seasons, twice led the league in assists while with the Nets and made the playoffs every full season he was on the team.
When Anthony arrives in town this week (is there any doubt now that he'll be on one of the local teams?), he'll be the latest in a long line of basketball greats who have come here. The question is: When his career is all said and done, will he be remembered like Earl Monroe or Bob McAdoo?