45 Years Ago, The Longest Official NBA Game In Which Some Players Played For Both Teams Tipped-Off


On February 7, 1979 Harvey Catchings, and Ralph Simpson were traded for Eric Money and Al Skinner in a trade between the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets.

Most of these names probably won’t ring a bell for the majority of NBA fans today, and even then it was considered as a more or less ‘minor deal’.

But, looking back at it now, it became one of the most interesting and craziest trades in NBA history. Why? Well, we need to go back to November 8, 1978, exactly 45 years ago today. The Sixers were playing the Nets and mid third quarter, referee Richie Powers handed out numerous technical fouls against players and coaches of the Nets, with Bernard King and coach Kevin Loughery being tossed from the game. This was highly controversial and it seemed more like a personal feud the referee had with the two, than correct NBA officiating.

The game went on and the Sixers ended up beating the Nets after double overtime. Afterwards though, the Nets protested and the NBA’s front office wasn’t too happy with Powers for his flash flood of technicals.

NBA Commissioner Larry O’Brien, therefore suspended Powers for five games for ‘failure to comply with league procedure’. What’s more relevant for this story though, is that the league’s front office also decided to replay the game starting at the 5:50 mark of the third quarter, just at the time the technicals were issued. Due to the hectic schedule for both teams, the replay couldn’t happen until March 23, 1979.

Before that game, and now back to February 7, the infamous trade happened, leading to the most bizarre and unique game ever.

After a front office decision, Catchings, Money and Simpson were allowed to play for their respective new teams and went on to do so, while becoming the only players in any professional sport, to play for either team in one game. They showed up in the box score of either team. Simpson said:


“The strangest situation I’ve ever been in. I was laughing about it, Julius Erving was laughing. It was sort of funny for everybody.”


To sum things up; Harvey Catchings and Ralph Simpson played for the 76ers and Eric Money and Al Skinner played for the Nets when the game began, but were traded to the opposing teams by the time the game, that technically was five months long, resumed.

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