Kobe Bryant is viewed as one of the most iconic athletes in history, largely due to his five NBA titles and 20-year career spent exclusively with the Lakers. But there was a possibility that his time in purple and gold would come to an end as the team negotiated with the Mavericks 15 years ago.
During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recalled the time in 2007 when he almost landed Bryant via trade, when negotiating with former Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss.
“I was going back and forth with Dr. Buss, and I forgot who called who, I think he called me, actually, and said, ‘Look, we think we might be parting ways with Kobe,’” Cuban said.
Funnily enough, Cuban recalls this specifically happened while he was on the show Dancing with the Stars.
Cuban said “it all fell apart” because Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers general manager at the time, convinced Bryant to stay put. The Mavericks were coming off an appearance in the 2006 NBA Finals where they fell to the Heat and followed it up with a 67–15 record at the end of the 2006–07 campaign thanks to an MVP season from Dirk Nowitzki.
“It would’ve been damn good,” Cuban said of the potential Dallas team had Bryant joined. “Dirk was like, ‘I would’ve traded me for Kobe,’ and I’m like, ’No, I’m not gonna trade you, Dirk, that’s the whole point.’”
Before he died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, Bryant had been honest in the past about being frustrated with the Lakers at times. He nearly forced his way out via a sign-and-trade with the Bulls before the Lakers dealt Shaquille O’Neal to the Heat in 2004. In the end, he never left Los Angeles and went on to win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 after nearly going to Dallas.
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