Today in Sports History: January 22nd


(Johhny Unitas in a San Diego Chargers uniform)

1/22/1973 - Unitas traded to Chargers

After 17 seasons with the Baltimore Colts, Johnny Unitas is traded to the San Diego Chargers for the draft rights of quarterback Bert Jones. Unitas had thrown for

more yardage and touchdowns than any player in history, but he was getting up there and had been benched the previous season for a younger player.

The 40 year-old QB decided to give it a go with the Chargers, who he said were only "one or two good players" from becoming the NFL champions. Unitas simply didn't have his best stuff with the new team. He started the first four games of the year, went 1-3, and was then benched in favor of rookie quarterback Dan Fouts. The player Unitas was traded for, Bert Jones, spent the next decade in Baltimore and had a pretty solid career, while the player Unitas was benched for, Fouts, evolved into a great player and was later elected to the Hall of Fame.

On a side note, Unitas is just one an enormous list of great players who spent their final years in an unfamiliar uniform, a list that includes Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Joe Namath, Brett Favre, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dominique Wilkins, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Cris Carter, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, and Bob Cousy, just to name a few.

1/22/1999 - Pippen traded to Rockets


(Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen on different teams. Photo courtesy of Associated Press)

With the inevitability of him leaving anyway, the Chicago Bulls trade Scottie Pippen to the Houston Rockets for Roy Rogers and a second round pick. In the sign-and-trade deal, Pippen agreed to a five-year deal worth close to $68 million. The deal was just the latest of a series of moves that dismantled the Chicago Bulls, who had won six of the last eight championships, including the last three. Scottie was the only player besides Michael Jordan who was on all six championship rosters.

Pippen joined a Houston team that included Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, two fellow future Hall of Famers. The addition of Pippen kept the team with a triad of great players, as Clyde Drexler had already announced his retirement. Normally the January deal would have come in the middle of the season, but with the NBA lockout having just ended, the season had not even begun.

While the Rockets' starting lineup looked great on paper, it was clear from the get-go that there were major issues. Not only had all three players aged considerably, Pippen feuded with Barkley and Olajuwon and complained about his reduced role in the offense. His scoring average went from 19.1 per game in 1997-98 to 14.4 in 1999 with Houston. The Rockets only managed a 31-19 record and went out to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

Pippen's time in Houston lasted just one season and came to an abrupt end when his discomfort with Barkley become public. Towards the end of September, Pippen went on ESPN and blasted the Houston power forward, calling him "fat" and "lazy." He was traded to Portland within the week.

1/22/2006 - Kobe scores 81 in a game

It was the perfect storm for a high-scoring performance. The Toronto Raptors were one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, while Kobe Bryant was the best offensive scorer in the NBA. That combination proved lethal, as the Raptors allowed an astonishing 81 points by Mr. Bryant.

To read more about this story, click here for an in-depth Inhistoric article:

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