Kobe Bryant is definitely one of the greatest players in the history of the game, completely changing the face of the Los Angeles Lakers and representing one of the most winning franchises in competitive sports until the very last day he decided to play basketball.
The 5 time NBA Champion, though, has been surrounded by a lot of controversy over his entire career, starting with that Vlade Divac trade to acquire him from the Charlotte Hornets, following with his alleged rape scandal and ending with his not so gentle treatment to his teammates.
On top of that, hundreds of rumors also surrounded Kobe’s career every now and then, constantly stating that the superstar wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers due to some troubles with other stars, and being constantly linked with a move to the Chicago Bulls to follow Michael Jordan’s steps.
Obviously, the Lakers never actually pulled the trigger and he’ll go down as probably the best player in the history of the franchise, but tonight we’ll tell you a story that could’ve actually changed the course of NBA as we know it today.
According to former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson, a 21-year-old Kobe Bryant was actually keen to leave the franchise, and that he actually demanded the team to deal him elsewhere amidst the 99-00 season.
Apparently, Kobe wasn’t comfortable with the Lakers system, and his 19 ppg average didn’t seem nearly enough for him, so he approached Jerry West to ask him how on earth did him and Elgin Baylor both average over 30 points per contest during his prime, but that didn’t end there.
Ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson confirms that Kobe Bryant asked to be traded during the 1999-2000 NBA season and that the Pistons were willing to offer up superstar Grant Hill.
“Kobe was only averaging about 19 points per game,” Jackson said, via Today’s Fastbreak. “So Kobe called Jerry West and wanted to know how Jerry and Elgin Baylor both averaged 30 points. Kobe also said that he wanted to be traded.”
Jackson stated that besides looking for friendly advice in West, one of his mentors and the guy responsible for the Divac trade, Bryant demanded to be dealt away from the Staples Center, with the Detroit Pistons keen to acquire his services and more than willing to deal All-Star legend Grant Hill.
At that point, Hill was a perennial All-Star and one of the most marketable players in all of sports. He was also a full six years older than Bryant.
But, it was a very tough decision for the best coach in NBA history.
“Of course, Jerry told me about the conversation. And, for a few minutes I thought about taking the Pistons up on an offer they made to trade Kobe for Grant Hill. Make that a few seconds,” Jackson said.
Phil was actually quite tempted by the offer to land the 27-year-old talented player, who would be thrived alongside Shaquille O’Neal, but after just a bit of consideration, he actually decided to make Kobe suck it off and deal with the fact that he had to be a Laker for a while longer.
Had this move happened, perhaps Kobe would never win an NBA Championship, although he’d pretty much average over 30 points per game for his entire career as the Pistons lone go-to-guy without having to share touches with Shaq.
On the other hand, Grant would’ve been a complete monster under Jackson’s triangle offense, although it’s pretty safe to say the Lakers made the right choice considering how often Hill got hurt and injured.
Looking back on this history, thank god Kobe never actually left, as he would’ve gone down in history as yet another scorer and not as one of the most dominant players in the history of the game, and an inspiration for so many more youngsters all across the globe.
Besides, Hill wind up leaving the Pistons to sign with Orlando the very next season, so making a move for him wouldn’t even mean that he would commit to staying at the Staples Center, and considering how poorly he fared after leaving Michigan, Phil Jackson really dodged a huge bullet there.