While there certainly are some exceptions, for the most part I think sports fans grow up rooting for their local teams, riding out the highs and lows while sticking with those teams no matter how bad the tough times can get. I mean, take it from me, I’ll devote every season to my Detroit Lions even after their disastrous 0-16 season.
I would venture to guess that most fans are like me in that sense. Growing up here in the Metro Detroit area, we are fortunate to have a franchise in all of the four major sports, and each one is the team I stand behind. If it’s the fall you can spot me wearing that Matt Stafford #9 jersey, in the winter months there I am hoping for the return of the glory days for my Red Wings and Pistons, and come summer you can find me enjoying a cold one while sitting behind home plate looking at a re-surging Detroit skyline while rooting for arguably the greatest hitter of my generation, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.
Being a Detroit sports fan has blessed me with a lot of great memories as I have been able to witness and celebrate multiple championships courtesy of the Red Wings and Pistons, and have been along for the ride on some close calls with the Detroit Tigers in recent years. However, I think the dream for any sports fan is for all of their teams to be at the top of their game every season, or at the same time, and with that wish came an idea that I envisioned many years ago — the idea of inter-sport trading.
Now, understand this about the idea, I do realize it is essentially impossible given the fact that these teams don’t in fact belong to the cities they represent. Owning a sports franchise is a business and all businesses of course are in the business of making a profit. Therefore, even though Detroit has four franchises, they are not owned by the same individual and therefore they would more than likely never be interested in my idea. However, we all can dream right? So here is my dream, the dream of the hometown fan.
With the NBA Lottery complete, the Boston Celtics are on the clock with the #1 pick and are in a prime position to remain a contender for years to come. Currently, the Boston Celtics are heading into the Eastern Conference Finals as the #1 seed and therefore in a great place going forward building around guys like Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Also in the Boston area, you have a perennial power in the New England Patriots, and even the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins have enjoyed recent success. All four franchises have won the championship in their respective sports in the past decade which is something to be really excited about if you are a Boston fan, and something that fans of other cities may wish to experience themselves.
In this example, seeing as how the Celtics are in a great spot contending for an NBA Championship, the Patriots are coming off a Super Bowl season and look to be ready to contend for another this season, and the Red Sox early on are hoping to be in the World Series conversation come October but currently find themselves in 3rd place in the AL East. If inter-sport trading were a thing, I would bet many Red Sox fans would definitely entertain the idea of being able to dangle that #1 pick that the Boston Celtics may not have much use for and trade it to another NBA franchise who could desperately use that #1 pick. Now the question is what’s the return for a Boston fan in this deal? Well, suppose the NBA team that receives the #1 pick is the Chicago Bulls. Chicago is rumored to be possibly facing a scenario where they move Jimmy Butler looking to shake their roster up and therefore a #1 pick would help that process. In return, coming off a World Series title, the Chicago Cubs are loaded with talent and perhaps could afford to lose a spare part in their rotation or lineup to give to the Boston Red Sox.
So in this scenario, you have the Boston Celtics still playing at a high level with salary cap space and perhaps not much need for a high draft pick at this time and the Red Sox would boost their roster via the return from the Cubs. If you’re a Chicago fan, you just gained a #1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft and potentially still have a very deep roster where such a move wouldn’t affect the World Series chances for the Cubs.
However, this scenario does pose a difficult issue considering Chicago is one of many cities or states where two or more franchises reside in the same city or state. For example, South siders and North siders may both love their Bulls but will have very different opinions of the Cubs with the White Sox also having loyal fanbases in the area. Therefore, half of the city would not be in support of inter-sport trading.
In another scenario that ultimately inspired the idea for me, we have to go back to 2003. My beloved Detroit Pistons were on the cusp of greatness vying for an NBA Championship with a core group that featured Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Tayshaun Prince. The lottery balls that year fell in Detroit’s favor landing them the #2 overall pick. However, with LeBron James going #1, the Pistons faced a dilemma of who to take with that pick. Hindsight is of course 20/20 but they definitely struck out with their selection in the long run, but in the short run it may not have been the worst thing in the world.
The Pistons went on to select Darko Milicic, and he rarely saw the court during his tenure in Detroit but during his rookie campaign, that may not have been the worst thing. The Pistons had a great starting five and a good group of role players off the bench that seemed to form a perfect team, and it’s possible that even with future superstars in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony available in that draft, their best chance to win an NBA title in 2004 was with a guy like Darko who didn’t get in the way by stealing minutes from the other Pistons.
In the short run therefore, drafting Darko may have not been a horrible option, while in the long run it of course looks like one of the worst draft picks in this history of the NBA as Darko Milicic went on to retire from basketball at age 27. However, I think the best scenario would have been to trade the pick because quite frankly, the Pistons just didn’t need it. This is where I drew the inspiration for my idea of inter-sport trading. The Pistons could have found a suitor in the NBA who would have jumped at the opportunity to get guys like Wade, Bosh or Melo and in return another franchise in Detroit could have reaped the benefits from it.
Prime example being the Indiana Pacers. The Pistons went on to beat Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals that year thanks in part to the block heard round the world when Tayshaun Prince ran down Reggie Miller swatting him at the rim. With Reggie set to retire, Dwyane Wade would have been a perfect replacement in Indiana had they traded for our #2 pick. Or imagine the frontcourt of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal with Ron Artest at the small forward position. Just down the road in Indiana, the Indianapolis Colts were riding high with Peyton Manning winning 3 straight NFL MVP’s from 2003-2005 and went on to win 12+ games in seven straight years beginning in 2003. The Colts went on to win the Super Bowl in 2006 and perhaps back when the Pistons could have traded that #2 pick the Colts would have been willing to ship their #1 and #2 or a pro bowl quality player to the Detroit Lions.
Again, the idea of inter-sport trading would never work, I get it. Unless teams became property of the cities themselves or owners bought the rights to every pro franchise in that particular city, no owner would sacrifice his own business by helping another business. But a sports fan can still dream right?