Kobe Bryant did something during his career that not many professional athletes do anymore. He spent his entire 20 year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, showcasing loyalty to the franchise that believed in him back when he was just getting started.
According to Mark Cuban, that nearly wasn’t the case. Cuban claimed that the Dallas Mavericks were close to pulling off a trade for Bryant in 2007 when he was looking for a way off the Lakers. Cuban believed the deal was as good as done, but it ended up falling apart when Bryant decided to stay in L.A. with the Lakers.
Cuban’s story drew a lot of attention, including from folks around the Lakers. Sources close to the team dispute Cuban’s story, saying that no deal was ever close, and that they only ran one trade by Bryant after his trade request, and it was from the Detroit Pistons rather than the Mavericks. Sounds like there are a lot more questions than answers that have been raised by Cuban’s recent bombshell about Bryant.
“Yet two sources familiar with the Lakers’ thinking at the time contend that the trade, from their perspective, was not as close to completion as Cuban sensed. One source said that the Lakers took only one proposed trade that summer to Bryant to gauge his willingness to waive the no-trade clause he possessed … to Detroit rather than Dallas. Bryant vetoed the trade to the Pistons headlined by Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince instantly and wound up reporting to training camp when the Lakers, in circumstances reminiscent of Brooklyn’s now, stopped looking for trades.” – Marc Stein
This is certainly interesting whichever way you look at it. Cuban believes that Bryant was nearly a Maverick, but the Lakers are disputing his story. This trade would have certainly added an interesting spin to Bryant’s legacy, even if it wasn’t as close to being completed as Mark Cuban believed.