Was Michael Jordan almost traded to the 76ers?
Throughout the 76ers history, several legends have suited up for the franchise. From Wilt Chamberlain to Julius Erving and Allen Iverson, Philly’s basketball history is rich. However, there was almost a name that would’ve topped them all. His Airness, Michael Jordan, almost landed in the City of Brotherly Love not just once but in two separate deals.
Both of these instances take place around the 1984 NBA Draft. Philadelphia would own the 5th pick thanks to a deal with the then-San Diego Clippers made in 1978. Now, Philly would go on to take Charles Barkley to help re-ignite their dynasty, but the pick almost changed hands.
Chicago owned the 3rd pick and would select North Carolina guard Michael Jordan, but not without trade discussions first. According to Michael Randall of the Herald Sun, the first deal was the 5th pick (Barkley), Andrew Toney, and Clemon Johnson for the 3rd pick. Now, it’s not specified who exactly turned down the deal, but it was likely Chicago who denied the swap.
Barkley is a decent consolation prize for Michael Jordan. Still, there’s genuinely no trade package that would’ve given the Bulls a decent return for MJ. The other deal discussed was also during the 1984 NBA Draft. The Sixers owner at the time, Harold Katz, was infatuated with Jordan and was willing to trade almost anything to get him on their roster.
Katz was willing to offer Julius Erving for the third overall pick. This trade would’ve been arguably the biggest in NBA history at that time. Erving was 33 at the time, averaging 22.4 points per game while making his 13th NBA All-Star Game.
“I thought I had a deal with (former owner) Jonathon Kovler of the Bulls for the third pick. Rod Thorn (the Bulls GM) killed that one and took Michael Jordan. I would have made that deal.” -Pat Williams’ Tales from the Philadelphia 76ers: 1982-1983 NBA Champions.”
It’s unclear how likely that deal could’ve been or if the 5th pick was involved or not. Philly was likely holding onto the 5th pick, which would’ve led to the best duo in NBA history. Imagine Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley teaming up for their entire careers in Philadelphia? That would’ve been something.
There are numerous “what-if?” trades that could’ve drastically altered the course of 76ers’ history, with the most recent being Allen Iverson to the Pistons or Kawhi Leonard for Ben Simmons back in 2018. Currently the 76ers are trying to navigate their next major trade, angling for Portland’ Damian Lillard.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today