The Trade That Changed NBA History – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Move To The Lakers 49 Years Ago Today


On June 16, 1975, a trade was made that would forever alter the landscape of the NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks sent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Junior Bridgeman, and Dave Meyers. This deal was not just a transfer of players; it was a pivotal moment that would lead to five championships for the Lakers and cement Abdul-Jabbar’s legacy as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Abdul-Jabbar had informed the Bucks of his desire to be traded earlier in October 1974. Despite winning a championship with Milwaukee and leading them to a Game 7 loss in the 1973 NBA Finals, he felt that the city was too small and too far from his loved ones. The trade was completed eight months after his request, and while it initially did not lead to immediate success for the Lakers, it set the stage for future triumphs.

The Lakers finished their first season with Abdul-Jabbar at 40-42, missing the playoffs. However, by 1977, the Lakers returned to the playoffs. The arrival of Magic Johnson in 1979 further propelled the team to victory, culminating in an NBA Finals win with Johnson stepping in for Abdul-Jabbar during Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Abdul-Jabbar continued to play at an elite level throughout his tenure with the Lakers, earning multiple MVPs, All-NBA and All-Defensive First Team selections. 

The ‘Showtime’ era of Lakers basketball began in 1984, leading to three more championships. Abdul-Jabbar’s final season with the Lakers in 1989 saw him retire as arguably the most accomplished basketball player ever, with six NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, six regular season MVPs, among numerous other accolades.

The trade that sent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from Milwaukee to Los Angeles is remembered not only for its immediate impact but also for its long-term influence on both franchises. It stands as a testament to Abdul-Jabbar’s enduring legacy and his indelible mark on the game of basketball.


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