2/14/1957 - Zollner moves Pistons to Detroit
The Fort Wayne Pistons, one of the charter franchises of the NBA, announce that they're moving to Detroit, Michigan. Like the Lakers, who would move to Los Angeles three years later, the Pistons' transition was done for financial reasons. In Detroit, they could play in a city with a population ten times that of Fort Wayne, Michigan.
"We had about 3,000 fans in Fort Wayne," Pistons owner Fred Zollner explained. "If we had 5,000, we'd have been in business. It's a red-hot basketball town, but it's just too small for us. As long as we stayed there, we couldn't keep pace with the growth of the rest of the league."
With the move, the team naturally changed its name to the "Detroit Pistons." In previous years, the team had been known as the "Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons," or just the "Zollner Pistons." It was a personal name, since Zollner happened to own a piston factory in Fort Wayne.
2/14/1990 - Jordan wears No. 12 uniform
Michael Jordan's No. 23 is among the most iconic jersey numbers in sports, though it wasn't the only digit he wore in his career. He wore No. 9 when he played on the 1992 Dream Team; he was No. 45 when first came back from retirement in 1995; and during a game down in Orlando in 1990, he was forced to wear No. 12 for the first and only time of his career.
Hours before tip-off, the Bulls discovered that someone had run into their locker room and swiped Jordan's uniform. A search was conducted, though neither the culprit nor the merchandise were ever located. In lieu of a backup, Jordan was lent a name-less, No. 12 practice jersey from teammate Sam Vincent (who, oddly enough, wore No. 11 and not No. 12.) Even in a foreign number, Jordan was the best player on the court. He scored 49 points and pulled down seven rebounds, but his Bulls fell to the Orlando Magic in overtime, 135-129. Afterward, Jordan was so irked by the theft that he passed on signing autographs for the Orlando fans.
"That has never happened to me before," Jordan was quoted in the Orlando Sentinel before the game. "It's pretty irritating because you're accustomed to certain things and you don't like to have things misplaced."
2/14/1995 - Clyde Drexler traded to Rockets
After 11-and-a-half seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Clyde Drexler is traded to the defending-champion Houston Rockets for Otis Thorpe, Tracy Murray, and a pair of draft picks. Drexler, who was the Blazers' all-time leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals, led Portland to the NBA Finals in 1992, which they lost in six games to the Chicago Bulls. He had been openly requesting a trade since January, when he complained that the team was heading in the wrong direction.
Although Clyde had spent his entire career in Portland, playing alongside Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon was not uncharted territory for him. The two of them had played together at the University of Houston, where they made a pair of Final Four appearances. "I can't wait for the first game, I really can't," Drexler said after arriving in Houston. "(Olajuwon) is the best player in the league, and it's been a dream of ours ever since we left the University of Houston to play together again."
Drexler was a much-needed addition for the Rockets, who were in serious need of another scorer to help out Olajuwon. It was an especially good deal considering they only had to give up Otis Thorpe, who was the starting power forward on the '94 championship team but was hardly an offensive presence. At the time of the deal, Houston was only sixth in the Western Conference. They finished the season in the same position, but found new life in the postseason. The Rockets won all four of their playoff series despite not having home court advantage and won their second consecutive NBA title and the first of Drexler's career.
Clyde, who was 32 at the time of the trade, played in only three more seasons in Houston before he announced his retirement. In 2004, after getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, the 42 year-old briefly considered un-retiring and coming off the bench as a sixth man. "It would be fun because it's been so long and it would be like the second part of my career," he said. He later dropped the idea.
2/14/2007 - Hardaway says he hates gays
One week after John Amaechi became the first NBA player to come out of the closet, the freshness of the story had pretty much faded away. But when former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway earnestly stated how he felt about homosexuals, the story suddenly got a revival.
Asked how he would have reacted to having a gay teammate, the five-time All-Star answered, "You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."
Hardaway apologized later that day, though the damage had been done. His controversial comments were universally blasted and he was told by commissioner David Stern that he would no longer be allowed to represent the NBA. He was fired from his coaching position in the CBA, lost at least one endorsement, and ordered his name be removed from a local car wash, saving the employees from unwanted criticism.
"I'm looking for a second chance and trying to clean up my image," Hardaway said a month later. Calling it the worst mistake of his life, he continued, "I haven't been in trouble with drugs or guns. I'm an upstanding citizen. Like I told my children, life is not easy. This is a big bump I have to overcome. I'm going to deal with it like a champ. I've got to make sure people know I don't hate gay people."