Today in Sports History: June 16th


(Tiger holds a trophy after winning the Open. Photo by Robyn Beck, Getty Images)

6/16/1975 - Bucks trade Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

After six years with the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem Abdul Jabbar is traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar, whose name was Lew Alcindor when he was originally drafted, was tired of playing in Milwaukee. He longed to be in a cosmopolitan city such as New York (where he grew up) or Los Angeles (where he went to college) and had demanded to be traded to a suitable team. "I don't want this to seem like a blast at the people in this city, but Milwaukee is not what I'm about," he said.

Abdul-Jabbar was traded alongside veteran center Walt Wesley, who would play a grand total of one game with the Lakers. Los Angeles gave up four people to get Kareem: Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, and draft picks Dave Meyer and Junior Bridgeman. It wasn't a total loss for the Milwaukee Bucks, who received a decent amount of talent from the trade. They continued to be a quality team and made the playoffs in all but two seasons over the next 15 years.

However, their success was a pittance compared to how well the Lakers did. The 27 year-old Jabbar would play all the way until 1989, and established NBA records in All-Star appearances (19), MVP's (6), consecutive games scoring in double-digits, career minutes, career field goals, and total points. He led the Lakers to five NBA championships and retired as one of the five greatest players to ever play the game.

6/16/1993 - Jordan scores 55

After two home losses in games 1 and 2 and a triple-overtime win in Game 3, the Phoenix Suns entered Game 4 of the Finals looking to even up the series. Charles Barkley gave the Suns a triple-double performance with 32 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals. But it wasn't enough, because Michael Jordan was simply better: scoring 55 points on 21-37 shooting while pulling down eight rebounds. He accounted for almost half the point total of the Chicago Bulls, who needed every one of them. Chicago won 111-105 to take a 3-1 series lead.

"We stopped him a few times, but he also inflicted his will on us a few times," said Suns coach Paul Westphal. "The biggest difference in the game tonight was that they had Michael Jordan, and we didn't."

"I was trying more or less to carry the load for the team tonight," said Jordan. "Whatever it takes to get us over the hump, that's what I'll do. ... We have the chance to make history. We don't want to let this slip through out fingers."

Jordan's performance was the second-highest output in Finals history, just six shy of Elgin Baylor's record of 61. The Suns came firing back in Game 5 and managed to pull off their second road victory of the series, 108-98. The win pushed the series to 3-2 and moved it back to Phoenix, where the Suns would have another shot at winning it all.

6/16/1996 - Bulls beat Sonics in finals

The Chicago Bulls defeat the Seattle SuperSonics, 87-75, in the sixth game of the NBA Finals. The win gave Chicago their fourth title in six years, and their first since Michael Jordan returned from retirement. For Jordan, who was the All-Star Game MVP, the regular season MVP, the regular season scoring champ and the finals MVP, it was the consummation of everything he had worked for. Many had questioned if M.J. was the still the player he had been before his exit, but after leading Chicago to a record 72 wins, no one was asking the question anymore.

The Bulls positively cruised to the championship. They lost just one game against the Eastern Conference in the postseason and were up 3-0 against the Sonics before dropping the next two games on the road.

After the game, Jordan broke down and wept in tears after sinking to the floor. It was Father's Day, and Jordan was thinking about his dad, James, who was murdered in 1993. "Who would have ever written this season?" asked Jordan, who had 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. "Who could have predicted this? But things work in mysterious ways. I was blessed to be able to be healthy all season, to bring a championship back to the city of Chicago. It happened on Father's Day, which made it even more special for me."

The win also validated Bulls forward Dennis Rodman, whose antics often got in the way of his performance. "Everybody thought I would come in and tear this organization up," said Rodman, who pulled down 19 rebounds. "There are a lot of things about me that people don't know. I'm a competitor. I stepped up and did the job, and I'm proud of it."

The Bulls went on to repeat as champions in 1997 and 1998 -- both times against the Utah Jazz. The Sonics, whose otherwise brilliant 64-18 record had been overshadowed by the Bulls' 72 wins, didn't remain competitive much longer. They won 57 games in 1997 and pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games in the second round; they won 61 games in 1998 after trading superstar forward Shawn Kemp for fellow power forward Vin Baker. After that, Gary Payton got older and Baker started to fall apart. The team drifted back into mediocrity and managed only one playoff series win from 1999 to the time they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.

6/16/2008 - Tiger wins at Torrey Pines

Tiger Woods goes the distance against an upstart Rocco Mediate and comes away with the 14th, and most exhilarating, major of his career. The Monday showdown between the underdog Mediate and the No. 1 golfer in the world garnered a massive amount of attention, so much so that the trading on Wall Street came to a halt as their one-on-one duel wrapped up.

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


(Sammy Sosa swears in to Congress. Photo by Mark Wilson, Getty Images)

6/16/2009 - Sosa linked to steroid list

Less than two weeks after announcing his retirement, and proclaiming that rumors of his steroid use were unfounded, the New York Times reports that Sammy Sosa is among the list of 104 players to test positive in 2003. Sosa became the third player in 2009 to get linked to performance-enhancing drugs, along with Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, and became the fourth player to have his name revealed from the anonymous testing. Along with A-Rod and Sosa, David Segui and Jason Grimsley also claimed that they were on the 104-list.

For Major League Baseball fans, it was the final proof that 1998 -- the year that Mark McGwire and Sosa chased after Roger Maris' single-season record -- was not what it had appeared to be. McGwire was getting rejected from the Hall of Fame, receiving less than one-fourth of the votes need to get in, and now Sosa appeared to be heading down that road.

Sosa denied it, saying that he would never put anything dangerous in his body, but the stats certainly didn't back him up. From 1989 to 1995, in the first seven years of his career, Sosa hit 131 home runs, an average of 18.7 home runs per year. From 1996 to 2002, over the next seven years, Sosa hit 368 home runs, an average of 52.6 per year, while becoming the first player in history to have three separate 60-home run seasons.

It was a sad series of events for a person who, only a decade earlier, had been honored at the State of the Union address as a national hero.

Also on this day:

1916: The Cleveland Indians sport numbers on their sleeves in an effort to make themselves more distinguishable from the stands. They abandon them a week later due to complaints. [See also: April 16th]

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