The late Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA championships, but his relationship with the franchise hit a few snags during the legendary guard’s 20-year career.
Bryant came close to leaving the Purple and Gold for the LA Clippers in 2004, but Lakers great Jerry West — serving as the Memphis Grizzlies’ general manager at the time — convinced him not to join the local rivals.
Kobe then requested a trade again in 2007 after failing to move past the first round of the playoffs in the previous three seasons. He made the Chicago Bulls his preferred destination — but as it turns out, Bryant almost landed on the Dallas Mavericks that year.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently told Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks he thought the deal was pretty much done. “Like, let’s start talking about putting together the trade call,” Cuban said, describing his mindset back then:
“I thought [the Kobe trade] was done.” 👀
Mark Cuban gives the back story of how the Mavs were close to trading for the Mamba in the B/R app 🤯
📳 https://t.co/03ruOImHHY pic.twitter.com/Bmx4VCBqGa
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 16, 2022
Cuban recalled when Lakers owner, the late Dr. Jerry Buss, informed him about Bryant’s availability while the Mavericks governor practiced for a “Dancing with the Stars” appearance. “I think he called me, actually, and said ‘Look, we might be parting ways with Kobe,’ Cuban said.
Cuban added the prospects of trading for Bryant brought excitement to the organization — with even Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki sharing the sentiment. “Dirk was like ‘I would have traded me for Kobe’ and I’m like, no, I’m not trading you, Dirk. That’s the whole point,” he said.
“Yeah, we would have been something else,” the Mavericks owner added.
Cuban speculated the trade likely fell through because of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak’s intervention. “I guess Mitch Kupchak talked Kobe into staying,” he said.
Phil Handy compares Kyrie Irving to Bryant
Despite the few clashes between Bryant and LA, the guard remained a cult figure among the Lakers family — with new players to this day bringing up the legendary guard’s name when they join the team. Donning the same jersey as Bryant has reportedly been one of the reasons why Kyrie Irving wants to join the Purple and Gold.
And Lakers assistant Phil Handy seems to think Irving would fit well with LA, recently saying that “if Kyrie was 6-foot-6, you would see Kobe mirrored back at you.”
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