There are turning points in all walks of life; if this hadn’t have happened, then that wouldn’t have followed. The flowchart of life takes some interesting turns. Here are some memorable turning points that I remember:
13) In 1965, Richard Nixon was offered a $100,000 salary and an unlimited expense account to become commissioner of baseball. He turned it down: “Don’t tell Pat. She’d kill me for turning you down.” Pat was Mrs Nixon.
The history of our country would be vastly different had he accepted the job.
12) 1984 NBA Draft; Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick; that turned out very well. Houston won a couple of NBA titles.
Portland then took Sam Bowie with the #2 pick; he played 10 years in the NBA, but started only 349 games, scoring 10.9 ppg.
History of the NBA would be a little different if Portland had chosen the guy the Bulls took with the #3 pick that year— Michael Jordan.
11) In 2006, Nick Saban was coaching the Miami Dolphins; they went 9-7 in his first season, but were looking for a QB to upgrade from Gus Frerotte. There was a free agent QB who had played for the Chargers, going 30-28 as San Diego’s starter. QB was well-regarded, but he tore his labrum in his shoulder in 2005, and the Chargers had a young Philip Rivers, so they moved on to the younger QB.
Miami’s team physician recommended passing on the free agent QB, so they signed Daunte Culpepper instead. Culpepper played four games for the Dolphins.
Imagine how football would be different had the Dolphins signed Drew Brees:
a) Saints might’ve never won a Super Bowl.
b) Saban would probably still be coaching the Dolphins and never would’ve gone to Alabama, where he became, arguably, the best coach in college football history.
10) Robert Irsay bought the Los Angeles Rams on July 13, 1972; he then immediately traded the franchise to Carroll Rosenbloom, who was the owner of the Baltimore Colts. Rosenbloom made the deal in part because he saved $4.4M in taxes.
— 11 years later, Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis, right after he drafted John Elway and traded him to Denver.
— Irsay’s son Jim now owns the Colts; he is a much better owner than his dad was.
— In 1979, Rosenbloom died in a swimming accident; his wife Georgia inherited the team, and in 1995, moved the Rams to her hometown of St Louis.
— After Georgia Frontiere died (Rosenbloom was her 6th husband, Dominic Frontiere her 7th) Stan Kroenke bought her 70% of the team and moved the team back to Los Angeles.
— As of 2019, according to Forbes Magazine, the Rams were worth $3.8B, the Colts #2.65B. After last season, Rams might be worth more now.
9) Dell Curry played 16 years in the NBA, scoring 12,670 points; he played his college ball at Virginia Tech, not a traditional hoop power.
Curry’s two sons were pretty good high school players, but Virginia Tech didn’t recruit either one of them. Bad move.
Seth Curry started at Liberty, then transferred to Duke; he’s scored 11.3 ppg in his eight years in the NBA.
Steph Curry played college ball at Davidson; they made the Elite 8 in 2008, while Virginia Tech made the NCAA Tournament once in Seth Greenberg’s nine years as the Hokies’ coach.
Greenberg does a very good job as ESPN’s studio analyst, but had he recruited Steph Curry, he might still be coaching Virginia Tech.
Steph Curry, obviously, is an all-time great in the NBA, one of only seven players ever to win 4+ championships and 2+ MVP awards.
8) Speaking of Steph Curry, he was the 7th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Smart move. Golden State has won four championships in the Curry/Klay Thompson era. Warriors are 101-54 in playoff games, since they drafted Curry.
Minnesota Timberwolves had the 5th and 6th picks that season; they needed guards but took Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn instead of Curry. Bad move.
In 13 years since then, Minnesota has made the playoffs twice, going 3-8 in playoff games.
7) In the fall of 1979, Jack McKinney was coach of the Los Angeles Lakers; they had a rookie point guard named Earvin Johnson, and were off to a 10-4 start. On an off day, McKinney went out for a bike ride but had an accident and had a brain injury. He never coached the Lakers again, though he did coach the Pacers/Kings down the road.
Paul Westhead took over from McKinney; Lakers won the NBA title that year, but two years later, he had a falling out with Earvin Johnson and the Lakers fired him, after a 7-4 start.
The new coach was Pat Riley, who prior to McKinney’s bike accident, was the color analyst on Lakers’ radio broadcasts. Riley turned out to be one of the best coaches in NBA history (he won five NBA titles) and is still running the Miami Heat franchise, but the fact is, had McKinney’s bike accident never happened, Riley may have never gotten his chance to be a coach.
6) August 12, 1987, the Detroit Tigers acquired P Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves, trading away a minor league pitcher. Guy named Smoltz.
Detroit went 98-64 in 1987, winning the AL East; they lost the ALCS to Minnesota, but this was only the second time Detroit had made the playoffs in 15 years. They didn’t make the playoffs again until 2006.
Meanwhile, John Smoltz went on to a Hall of Fame career, winning 213 games and saving 154 others; dealing Alexander in 1987, when Atlanta went 69-92, helped the Braves make the playoffs 14 times in 15 years, starting in 1991.
5) Dodgers bolted Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season; they needed a second team to move to the west coast, to make travel feasible for the other six teams in the National League. Move has obviously turned out to be a great one for the Dodgers.
At the time Dodgers/Giants/Bronx were all in New York City; the Giants were doing the worst of the three on the field, and attendance at the Polo Grounds wasn’t good, so they agreed to move, figuring a move to the Bay Area would be more lucrative then splitting the financial pie with a more successful team in the Bronx.
Problem is, Candlestick Park wasn’t such a great ballpark; very windy, had to share it with the 49ers. Giants didn’t do their due diligence on Candlestick Point, and wound up, for 40 or so years, with a sub-standard stadium.
Their new stadium is way better and now the Giants have a good deal, but think about it; would you rather own the Giants or the Mets, who came into being in 1962, filling the void left by the two teams bolting to California?
4) When Brett Favre was Green Bay’s quarterback in 1994, his backup was Mark Brunell, who wound getting traded to Jacksonville the next year, the Jaguars’ first season.
Green Bay had another QB in camp in 1994, but they cut him. Guy wound up playing in the Arena League for three years, then in NFL Europe, before signing with the Rams in 1998. Now he is in the Hall of Fame— Kurt Warner.
Had Green Bay kept Warner instead of Brunell, they might mot have made a movie about him.
3) Baseball’s 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati went 12 innings; National League won 5-4 when Pete Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run, even though Fosse didn’t have the ball yet.
Fosse suffered a separated shoulder and wasn’t the same player after that. Cleveland traded him to the A’s two years later. Fosse helped the A’s win two World Series and wound up being a TV analyst for Oakland for 35 years after he retired.
2) In 2017, Chicago Bears traded up (gave up a 3rd and 4th round pick) to the #2 spot in the NFL Draft, in order to take QB Mitchell Trubisky, who went 29-23 as Chicago’s starter in his four years there. Not a bad record, but the Bears lost both playoff games in the Trubisky era.
Problem is, Chicago could’ve kept those 3rd/4th round picks and taken Patrick Mahomes, who was the 10th pick that year. NFL would look a lot different had that happened.
Of course, Chicago could’ve also taken Deshaun Watson that year; then they would have a much different kind of mess on their hands. Watson was the 12th pick in that draft.
1) Tom Brady was the 199th player picked in the 2000 Draft, a 6th-round pick. He became the starter in New England because Drew Bledsoe got hurt in a 2001 game.
Since then, Brady has won seven Super Bowls and is one of the best QB’s ever. Every team in the NFL passed on him multiple times, including the Patriots.
Brady’s record in New England: 249-75
Bill Belichick’s record as a head coach: 321-156
With Brady: 249-75
Without Brady: 72-81