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Legendary players who almost spent their entire career on one team

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They are known for one franchise, but retired with another.

Spurs v Lakers - Game 4 Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

I was thinking about Tony Parker the other day when the news about his poker excursion broke. When he left the San Antonio Spurs I was sad because I thought he should have spent his entire career with the Silver & Black.

There’s no logical data to sustain this belief, it is more a romantic notion that a player needed no other locale to fulfill his professional needs. There were no greener pastures in the man’s eyes.

But the reality is that the NBA is a business and players move for a number of reasons- pay, location, and title contention just to name a few.

On the other hand, perhaps a player would willingly spend his whole career with the same team, but gets traded. It works both ways.

In today’s NBA, player longevity on a lone team seems more rare than it did in the last generation, at least from a star or marquee player standpoint. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, David Robinson were three of the biggest stars and they anchored with the respective teams throughout. Recent hall-of-fame inductee Tim Duncan is a member of that club. The same could have been said of Michael Jordan, until he went to Washington.

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Here are a few other memorable players who are noted for their role with a team, yet played out their final days on another franchise. This list is by no means exhaustive, so I encourage you all to add other players in the comments:

George Gervin- Before he played with the Spurs, The Iceman was with the Virginia Squires, but as far as his NBA career, he was a lifelong member of the Spurs. That is, until he left and played his final season with the Chicago Bulls.

Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

Karl Malone may be synonymous with the Utah Jazz, but he went after a ring in 2003 and joined the Los Angeles Lakers. Alongside Kobe Bryant, Shaq, and Gary Payton (who was also hoping to capitalize on the Lakers chances), the veritable All-Star starting team was ousted by the Detroit Pistons in five games.

NBA Finals: Lakers v Pistons Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Hakeem Olajuwon could very well be considered the face of the Houston Rockets. The only player in recorded NBA history to accrue two quadruple-doubles, he also led the Rockets to back-to-back titles in the wake of Michael Jordan’s foray into minor league baseball. But The Dream did not retire with Houston. Instead, he hung up his shoes fifteen-hundred miles north in Toronto while playing with Raptors.

Hakeem Olajuwon #34 blocks his man

Three legends who spent their entire career with one franchise, sans a lone final season.

Are there any others? Play along, Pounders.


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