Can NBA Players Get Traded Mid-Game?
A truly bizarre moment in basketball history.
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Eric Money is the only NBA player to score for both teams in a single game.
Typically, basketball players stay on the same team for the whole game. You put on your jersey — maybe this slick Miami Vice one — when the game starts, and you’re still wearing it when the game ends.
But the NBA was a different place in the 70s. Namely, it was a league still in its infancy. In 1978, we were just two years removed from the ABA-NBA merger, when four teams from the ABA switched over to the NBA side of things. This merger introduced the San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, and New Jersey Nets into the NBA.
On November 8, 1978, those Nets faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets had a young Bernard King as their best player. He got fouled and was BIG MAD about the call, so he yelled at the official and got a technical foul. It was his second technical of the game, meaning he was ejected and had to leave.
Perhaps embarrassed from his technical fouls, would King walk off the court quietly without further incident? Of course not! Instead, he kicked a chair on his way to the locker room, screaming loudly and gesticulating wildly, setting off an incendiary chain of events. By the time things simmered down, King and Nets coach Kevin Loughery each had three technicals apiece, which is highly illegal in the sport.
Then the game resumed. Phil Jackson — the same guy who later coached the Bulls and Lakers to many trophies — took over as coach, and guard Eric Money (in the running for greatest NBA name ever) started scoring like crazy.
Despite their best efforts, the Nets lost 137-133 in double overtime. And like King earlier, they were BIG MAD. Call them angry carrots because they were steamed vegetables.
They protested to the league that there were too many technical fouls and the game should be replayed.
The league agreed, and it was settled. The two teams would resume the action from the 5:50 mark of the third quarter. But thanks to the whirlwind schedule of the NBA, the Nets and Sixers couldn’t meet again until March 23, 1979. They’d finish this first game and then play their previously scheduled one on the same day. A basketball double-header!
Before that game happened, the Sixers traded Harvey Catchings, Ralph Simpson, and cash to the Nets for Money and Al Skinner.
Despite this bizarre situation, the NBA decided to let the traded players play for their new teams.
Money, who scored 37 in the original game, suited up for the Sixers. Catchings and Simpson played for the Nets. And Al Skinner continued to sit on the bench, recording a combined zero minutes of on-court action in the two games.
The Sixers won again, this time disposing of the Nets 123-117. The makeup game didn’t go to overtime, and Money only finished with 23 points. However, he was the only player to score for both teams—a very impressive feat.
Philadelphia won the second game on March 23, too. So the Nets lost three times despite only playing two games. That is similarly impressive.
I hope Money kept his jerseys from both teams, or perhaps wore a hybrid creation, like Donna Kelce wore when both her sons were in the Super Bowl.
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