The Top 5 Biggest NBA Free Agent Signings of All Time


It is almost getting to the point where an NBA offseason is more entertaining than the regular season, especially if you are a drama fiend and only a casual hoops viewer. It seems that this era of professional basketball is most often correlated to the idea of a super team, but super teams have always existed to some extent (I mean a team in the 90’s did go 72-10). Where most super teams differ now is in the blockbuster free agent signings that leave catastrophic damage to any chances of varied content for your next week of SportsCenter viewings. In the social media day and age, signings aren’t only here to shake up power rankings. They bring change to basketball culture at large. These are the top 5 signings that almost made twitter crash (or that would have if it existed in the 90s).

5. Demarcus Cousins to the Golden State Warriors

Here is the most premature choice to kick off the list and probably the most debatable one. How big can a signing be if it probably won’t change the outcome of the regular season (Sorry if I had to remind you that this season is all but wrapped up, but we can still enjoy all the flashy dunks and dramatic storylines, right?). The signing is big nonetheless and could have a huge impact down the line for the culture of the NBA. A team now has 5 all-star caliber players in their prime. Think, the best team in NBA history spastically added an MVP. UNFAIR. That same team adds possibly the best center in the league. I know that we all know that by now, but it does not sink into my brain personally except for about once a week. This signing could raise a few questions. How much more can free agents push super teams? Do super teams have to reach this level of ridiculousness for it to eventually run its course? Will fans put up with this type of dynasty in the social media age?

4. Shaquille O’Neal to the Los Angeles Lakers

Everyone has their Devil’s Advocate debates with friends for their Darkhouse pick as the G.O.A.T. I happen to believe that Shaq really does have an argument. 10 straight seasons of at least 25 and 10 with an insane 30-point 14-rebound ’99-’00 season off 57 percent from the field. The Big Diesel is known for much. His impressive Hall of Fame career, backboard shattering performances, excusable yet atrocious free throw shooting skills, and playing for many teams. While I did not need to tell you how much of a beast Shaq was, I feel it does need some reminding since Twitter was not alive to react to his Lakers signing in 1996. The Lakers did a lot that off-season by drafting Kobe as well, but the big news at the time was signing the Shaqtus to what was then, the highest paying contract in the NBA at 7 years 120 million. Combine that with an 8-year run that featured a three-peat, this signing fits the modern-day mold perfectly.

3. LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers

Round two of three in the LeBron James free agent fiasco. This time, the King took his talents back to Cleveland. This signing’s impact serves more for how we perceive player’s legacies than their impact on the W-L column, but who is to say what a big signing is? LeBron could be the best player of the time and his decision to snag a ring for his hometown team will always go down as his most impressive accomplishment and his signature moment. We debate these guys with such drama besides stats and rings that everybody needs their “moment”. It also feels like this signing brought a new perspective to the way we spin these free agent signings. The hometown factor is apparently something that really matters now? Paul George and Kevin Durant obviously cared

2. Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors

The day that KD signed with Golden State became the day that free agency transcended the basketball culture. Snake emoji’s now litter every major Instagram account whether its basketball related or not. LeBron’s move to Miami seemed unfair to the point where it was worth getting mad over. The Durant signing seemed so ridiculous that it took a comedic tone and once again, it was before Demarcus Cousins joined the ship. Oh boy, this signing did it all. It seemed to have turned Durant’s image inside out and made his old persona in OKC a big fraud. It brought a whole new level to the ring conversation and how much they are valued for the legacy arguments, because I don’t know if people are mad at something, but KD is not getting too much credit for his two rings thus far. But at least in supplying us a new villain for the basketball season, he has made the season more exciting, just like LeBron’s Miami Heat teams. There have been heavy favorites going into NBA seasons, but LeBron’s Heat only won two out of four. This Golden State team is a wrap and we have to rely on the beefs and the triple-double seasons to help us endure it all. All in all, it is fun and dramatic, right?

1.LeBron James to the Miami Heat

So, after all this talk about how unstoppable Kevin Durant made the Warriors, LeBron still gets the biggest signing? Yes. First of all, he made an ESPN special out of it. Second of all, he began the super team. Hold on, he did not begin “being a Hall of Famer on the same team as other Hall of Famers”. The Miami move did, in fact, begin this notion. “My rings are of utmost importance over any old school competition.” I can’t blame the guy either. He was the original basketball meme. Anyone that followed NBA meme Facebook pages in 2011 knows the ring-less LeBron memes were the flagship jokes. He, Chris Bosh, and D-Wade in South Beach announcing a minimum of eight rings is what this list is all about. They were beloved by many and became the villain to many others. The old-school Celtics roster could not stand them, but obviously, people like KD were taking notes. The conversation of basketball as a business first was taking prominence, and even though LeBron left with only two rings in four years, I can’t think of a signing that shocked the world as much as this.



All Player Images by Keith Allison (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Categories: NBA

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: