Jumping Ship After the 'Ship: When Athletes Leave Championship Teams

A big win means you can cash in, but is it smart to leave your squad? We examine 12 cases.

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Complex Original

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It's the classic tale of turning rings into serious cash—and no, we're not talking pawn shops. Athletes who are part of championship-winning teams inevitably gain a higher profile and a newfound respect, which often allows them to leverage better contracts from other squads. The latest example is Trevor Ariza, who left the L.A. Lakers this month to move to the Houston Rockets for $33 million over five years. We're not mad at Trevor for getting his paper, but history has shown that it's not always the best move to leave a proven winner for greener pastures. Keep reading to see a history of players who cashed in on rings and whether or not it was a good decision...


NAME: Dennis Rodman
WON WITH: Chicago Bulls, 1998 NBA Finals
CONTRACT: 1 year/$1 million with Los Angeles Lakers
GOOD MOVE?: With his sister acting as his agent, Rodman signed to the Lakers not for money but because he wanted to avoid Chicago's post-Jordan rebuilding phase. Rodman played only 23 games with the Lakers before he was released. He did manage to marry (and divorce) Carmen Electra during his stint in L.A. though.


NAME: Deion Sanders
WON WITH: San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
CONTRACT: 7 years/$25 million with a $12.99 million signing bonus with Dallas Cowboys
GOOD MOVE?: At the end of the 1994 season, Sanders and teammate Jerry Rice butted heads over who deserved the most credit for the 49ers' Super Bowl win. Sanders ended up signing with the Cowboys, where he enjoyed five successful seasons as one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league. For his sake, we'll omit what happened to his career after he left Dallas.


NAME: Pat Burrell
WON WITH: Philadelphia Phillies, 2008 World Series
CONTRACT: 2 years/$16 million with Tampa Bay Rays
GOOD MOVE?: After being part of the Phillies squad that beat the Rays in the 2008 World Series, Burrell made the move to Tampa Bay. So far this season, Rays fans are still waiting for Pat the Bat to emerge, as he only has 3 home runs and a .229 batting average. Who are you, Big Papi?


NAME: Pedro Martínez
WON WITH: Boston Red Sox, 2004 World Series
CONTRACT: 4 years/$53 million with New York Mets
GOOD MOVE?: Pedro's time in New York would be marred by injury with occasional patches of the pitching strength that merited his fat deal. An aging Martinez would finish up the 2008 season with the Mets on a low note, recording the first losing record of his career before becoming a free agent and ultimately signing with the Phillies for pennies...well, $1 million for one year, anyway.


NAME: Dominic Rhodes
WON WITH: Indianapolis Colts, Super Bowl XLI
CONTRACT: 2 years/$7.5 million with Oakland Raiders
GOOD MOVE?: Although he signed on for two years, Rhodes would only play one season with the Raiders. Rhodes started off the 2007 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. (A Raider with a drug problem? Go figure.) Dominic was released in 2008, two days after the Raiders picked up running back Darren McFadden in the 2008 NFL Draft. Al Davis=FAIL.


NAME: James Posey
WON WITH: Boston Celtics, 2008 NBA Finals
CONTRACT: 4 years/$25 million with New Orleans Hornets
GOOD MOVE?: Looking for more money after the 2008 NBA Finals, Posey opted out of his contract with the Celtics to ink a deal with New Orleans. Posey would prove to be a good role player and a nice addition for the Hornets, but ultimately wasn't enough to get them out of the first round.


NAME: Dave Roberts
WON WITH: Boston Red Sox, 2004 World Series
CONTRACT: 1 year/$2.25 million with San Diego Padres
GOOD MOVE?: The player credited for sparking Boston's historic comeback in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, Roberts made a good addition to the Padres...that is, until they acquired Mike Cameron from the Mets and moved Roberts to left field. Dave would spend one season with the Padres before moving on to the Giants. He'll always have that stolen base, though.


NAME: Larry Brown
WON WITH: Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl XXX
CONTRACT: 5 years/$12.5 million with a $3.5 million signing bonus with Oakland Raiders
GOOD MOVE?: Using his title as Super Bowl MVP, Brown was able to steal ink a well-paying contract with the Raiders. However, Brown was suspended and benched for the majority of his Raider tenure, playing a meager 12 games over the course of two seasons before being released from his contract early. Al Davis: FAIL.


NAME: Iván Rodríguez
WON WITH: Florida Marlins, 2003 World Series
CONTRACT: 4 years/$40 million with Detroit Tigers
GOOD MOVE?: Pudge had an extremely successful four years with the Tigers. Despite being outed as a steroid user by former teammate Jose Canseco, Rodríguez was able to overcome controversy to maintain his stellar stats as a rock-solid catcher (ayo!). He was traded to the Yankees in 2008 and currently catches balls (ayo!) for the Astros.


NAME: Bobby Bonilla
WON WITH: Florida Marlins, 1997 World Series
CONTRACT: 4 years/$5.9 million with Los Angeles Dodgers
GOOD MOVE?: Bobby Bo's stay with the Dodgers was cut short when he made headlines by lashing out at Tommy Lasorda, saying he was an intimidating and unwelcome presence in the locker room. Nice one, Bobby.


NAME: Rob Scuderi
WON WITH: Pittsburgh Penguins, 2009 Stanley Cup
CONTRACT: 4 years/$13.6 million with Los Angeles Kings
GOOD MOVE?: Time will tell whether the hard-nosed defenseman made the right move for his career. We will say this, though: Living in L.A. beats the fuck out of living in Pittsburgh.

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