0 of 10
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
In this era of increased player movement, superstars playing their entire careers with one team are few and far between. Gone are the days of Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant and Larry Bird staying with one team for their decade-plus-long careers.
Not every legend of past eras only had one team, though. Most are closely associated with one franchise, but even some of those greats had less-than-memorable stops elsewhere.
When you think Hakeem Olajuwon, you think Houston Rockets. When you think Patrick Ewing, you think New York Knicks. But both of those legends, and plenty of others, played the tail ends of their careers in other cities that most fans would rather forget about.
Here are 10 of the best players in NBA history—in jerseys you probably forgot they ever wore.
1 of 10
Tony Dejak/Associated Press
Wade’s half-season with the Cleveland Cavaliers was only two years ago, but most fans have already tried to repress it from their memories. His one-year Chicago homecoming, while awkward, at least made some level of sense given his ties to the area.
Wade signed a two-year, $48 million deal with the Bulls after negotiations with the Miami Heat broke down. After his first season in Chicago, the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and entered a full rebuild, and Wade agreed to a buyout and reunited with close friend/former Heat teammate LeBron James in Cleveland.
Despite the potential excitement of a LeBron-Wade reunion, Wade’s stint in Cleveland never felt right, down to his jersey number choice. He didn’t fit well in Cleveland, the Cavs struggled out of the gate, and they underwent a major shakeup to reshape the roster around James at the deadline.
As part of those changes, they traded Wade back to Miami. He re-signed with the Heat the following summer, announcing that he would be retiring at the end of the season and giving fans one more year to enjoy him where he should be: in south Florida.
2 of 10
Ron Turenne/Getty Images
Most people would rather forget about the final year of Hakeem Olajuwon’s legendary career.
His playing days at large saw him win two championships and an MVP award with the Houston Rockets and become one of the greatest centers in NBA history. He played 17 seasons with Houston, but he turned down a new contract with the Rockets after the 2000-01 season.
Houston was looking to go in another direction—rebuilding following the retirement of Charles Barkley—and didn’t want to pay big money to the then-38-year-old Olajuwon, whose production had been declining for the past few seasons.
Olajuwon was traded to Toronto for a first-round pick and a second-round pick, and he signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Raptors. His lone season up north was forgettable: He averaged a career-low 7.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game and started in just 37 of the 61 games he played as he dealt with back problems.
Olajuwon retired after that season.
3 of 10
Lori Shepler/Associated Press
The writing was on the wall for Iverson’s career after a disastrous stint with the Detroit Pistons in 2008-09. Shortly after the start of the season, he was traded from Denver to Detroit in a deal that sent former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets, which made the trade unpopular with Pistons fans from the beginning. Iverson was a bad fit in Detroit, not taking well to a bench role, and he found that offseason that the market for him had dried up.
Iverson went the majority of the 2009 offseason without a home, eventually signing a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies shortly before training camp began. But just like in Detroit, Iverson didn’t warm up to the idea of coming off the bench. He appeared in just three games with Memphis, averaging 12.3 points in 22.3 minutes per game, before leaving the team for “personal reasons” and eventually being waived.
Iverson signed with the Philadelphia 76ers for the remainder of the 2009-10 season, at least providing the opportunity to bring his career full-circl