ESPN’s Brian Windhorst brings us a report that offers the chance to imagine a fun alternate history: What if the Lakers had traded Kobe Bryant for LeBron James?
According to Windhorst, the Lakers tried to make that trade happen in the summer of 2007. At the time, Bryant was a 28-year-old scoring machine and still very much a star, and James was a 22-year-old coming off his first Finals appearance.
Trading away LeBron James at that moment in his career, even for someone as good as Bryant, would have obviously been an insane thing for the Cavs to do. As for the Lakers, it’s important to remember that they were coming off another disappointing season in the post-Shaq era, and Kobe Bryant was pissed. This was the time period when he was talking shit about Andrew Bynum on camera and seemingly dead set on getting out of Los Angeles. Bryant’s souring relationship with the Lakers was the biggest NBA storyline that summer, and for a time it looked like he was going to force a trade.
In the end, it’s a good thing the Lakers were rebuffed by Cleveland, as they went on to trade for Pau Gasol and make three straight trips to the Finals. And even if the Cavs had accepted, Kobe says he would have shot down the trade with his no-trade clause:
“I never would’ve approved it. Never. The trade to go to Cleveland? Never,” Bryant told [ESPN’s Baxter] Holmes. “That wasn’t one of the teams that was on my list. It was Chicago, San Antonio [or] Phoenix.”
Man, can you imagine miserable-ass Kobe being forced to waste an entire year of his prime in Cleveland alongside Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Daniel Gibson? There would have been bloodshed.
Anyway, read Windhorst’s entire story. You’ll enjoy the part where the Cavs counter-offered with a trade package that did not include James. Uhhhh, how about we give you Delonte West and some sandwiches?