I was a member of the blog and one of my favorite type of cards to make are the “What If?” cards where I changed cards to represent what would have happened if a specific event went a different way. I still enjoy designing cards but I have not done many “What If?” cards lately so the other day when I was reading a story about the worst draft picks ever I came across a pick that surprised me, Derek Jeter in the 1992 MLB Draft. Now Jeter is not a blown draft pick by anybody’s definition, the failure was the teams that passed on him before he was taken #6 by the Yankees.
The Montreal Expos had the #3 pick, according to many reports they were actually leaning towards Jeffrey Hammonds (Taken #4 by Baltimore) they also had eyes on Jeter but they ended up passing on both because they feared that both players would demand to much of a signing bonus. They went the penny-pincher route and selected B.J. Wallace. Jeter signed with the Yankees and built a legendary Hall of Fame career while Wallace never made it to the pros and is now in prison for manufacturing meth.
So I decided to make a card representing Jeter's Expo rookie card last night.
1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter
What if the Expos had drafted Derek Jeter instead of B.J. Wallace? Would there still be a team in Montreal? Would the Expos have 5 World Series trophies? Would the 1996 AL ROY be their long time captain anchoring an all-star team?
Here are some of the “What If?” cards that I had posted on the Custom Card Blog. In order of card year:
1969-70 Topps Lew Alcindor
What if the Suns won the coin flip?
In 1969 the NBA held a coin flip between the two worst teams, Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, which the Bucks won and they drafted Alcindor out of UCLA. With Lew Alcindor on their roster the Bucks won 4 Division Titles, 2 Conference Titles and an NBA Championship while the Suns won only 236 games over 6 seasons with a miserable .480 winning percentage.
1984 Topps John Elway
What is Elway sacked up, quit his whining and stuck with Baltimore?
In 1983 Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, a team he insisted that he would never play for, starting off a media he said/she said tiff with the team. He threatened to play for the Yankees if he wasn’t traded. There are reports that the 49ers were interested in a Montana-Elway trade, the Chargers were interested in a Fouts-Elway trade and that the Patriots wanted him too. In the end he went to Denver, going to 5 Super Bowls and winning two along with a collection of hardware and records. The Colts ended up moving to Indianapolis the next year, the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore, becoming the Baltimore Ravens, 12 years later.
1984 Fleer Michael Jordan
What if Portland decided to bring in a young kid at guard to back up Jim Paxson?
In 1984 the Portland Trailblazers selected Center Sam Bowie because they already had an All-Star Guard with Jim Paxson as well as another young Guard, Clyde Drexler who they drafted the year before.
The Bulls, who lost out on Magic Johnson on a coin flip prior to the 1979 NBA Draft, jumped on the opportunity to draft His Airness. The Trailblazers went on to have some success, even making it to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, but nothing like what happened in Chicago. The Bulls went on to win 6 NBA Championships, set a ton of records and add a nice collection of hardware to Jordan’s shelves.
1997 Topps Chrome Tim Duncan
What if Boston won the NBA Draft Lottery with their 36% chance?
During the 1996-97 NBA season the Celtics ended up with the second to worst record behind the Vancouver Grizzlies, but because they had two Lottery picks they actually had the best percentage chance of winning the #1 position. Instead the Spurs picked #1 taking Duncan while the Celtics selected Chauncey Billups (#3) and Ron Mercer (#6), both were traded within two years.
The Spurs have won 5 Conference Titles and 4 NBA Championships since that draft while the Celtics have had success, winning two Conference Titles and 1 NBA Championship it was with a whole new group of players including Garnett, Allen, Pierce and Rondo. With Duncan I would think there would be a couple more banners hanging from the rafters in Boston.
2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic Tim Duncan
What if Duncan took the big free agency money and signed with the Orlando Magic?
Following the 1999-2000 NBA season the Orlando Magic were working to build a team around a super star, that man was Tim Duncan. The Magic brought in Duncan, Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady to talk. They opened the checkbook to make the signing happen including enlisting Tiger Woods and Dr. J to make a sales pitch. They used Epcot Center and laser light shows to make it sparkle in the Magic Kingdom all for Duncan and Hill. Hill signed, McGrady too but after spending time with David Robinson, Tim Duncan decided to remain a Spur. The Spurs won 3 more titles since retaining Duncan while the Magic had some success, even making it to the NBA Finals in 2009, but the whole Dwight Howard fiasco over shadowed much of their success.