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Isiah Thomas thinks MJ traded for Bill Cartwright because Charles Oakley was not tough enough

Trading away Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright was a baffling move and Isiah Thomas explains the reason behind it.
Michael Jordan needed protection against the Bad Boys so the Chicago Bulls traded away Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright.

Michael Jordan needed protection against the Bad Boys so the Chicago Bulls traded away Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright.

Isiah Thomas was at it again, spewing controversial takes involving his archrival Michael Jordan. This time, he revealed why the Chicago Bulls traded for Bill Cartwright: Charles Oakley wasn't tough enough.

The Charles Oakley trade

Charles Oakley played for the Chicago Bulls from 1985 to 88 and during the 2001-02 season. In his first stint, he built close ties with Michael Jordan. Oakley was ready to defend his teammate and friend from attacks from opposing teams. He even claimed that MJ didn't take a beating when he was his teammate.

However, despite his willingness to put his life on the line for MJ, Charles would find himself getting shipped to the New York Knicks in exchange for Bill Cartwright. MJ disapproved of this move, but it was a front office decision as they thought they needed Bill's height more. Oak was playing fine at that time, averaging 2nd most rebounds in the team, so it was a baffling move nonetheless. Trading away your 2nd best rebounder and your star player's close pal for an older player who averaged fewer points? Not the brightest move on paper.

Charles Oakley in 87-88 season: 

  • Age: 24
  • Averages: 12.4 points and 13 rebounds per game
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Bill Cartwright in 87-88 season

  • Age: 30
  • Averages: 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game

Isiah Thomas claimed that the trade was connected to Michael Jordan and his protection against the Bad Boys of the Detroit Pistons.

Jordan needed more protection

Thomas thinks the Bulls signed Bill because he was more physical than Oakley. Drumming up the Bad Boys era of Detroit Pistons and how they gave MJ the fits was nothing new, but Thomas offered a fresh, contemporary take on the deal.

"So we in Chicago and Chicago has just traded Oakley because he wasn't physical enough. They traded [Charles] Oakley for [Bill] Cartwright. Jordan needed more protection, so they brought Cartwright in and you know he had this, you know, they said he swung his arms."

Isiah Thomas, Point Forward

This is a bit ridiculous coming from the Pistons great. Charles was ready to put everything on the line to protect his teammates, even against the Bad Boys of Pistons. Cartwright may be taller and longer, but Charles collared more rebounds. 

Bill proved his worth by helping the Bulls win three championships in a row. It could have been more had MJ continued playing, but he suddenly retired in 1993. Bill Cartwright's numbers with the Bulls may be modest, but the team enjoyed success with him, and that's the ultimate proof that the gamble to trade away Charles Oakley was worth it. 

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