It’s always fun playing fantasy games in your head about how would a team’s fortune change if they got that draft pick or made that trade. According to Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks nearly got Kobe Bryant from the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2007.
Remember 2007? When Bryant wasn’t very popular with Laker fans? Three seasons post Shaq, the Lakers had one season without the playoffs and two more first round exits. Bryant was playing pretty much on his own in 2006 and 2007, winning the scoring title twice on a team that clearly didn’t have the kind of talent he thought he should have around him and get him a title ring.
He averaged 35.4 points per game during the 2005-2006 season, which included the 81 points game against the Toronto Raptors and 62 points against the Dallas Mavericks. The next season Bryant averaged 31.6 points per game, having a stretch of four consecutive games with at least 50 points, something only Wilt Chamberlain ever accomplished. Needless to say, this was Bryant at his best as a scorer, but that didn’t help the Lakers in the postseason.
When the 2007-2008 season began, way before the Pau Gasol trade that changed everything, Bryant was being booed by Lakers fans. Trade rumors were flying around, and the talk was what the Chicago Bulls were willing to give up so they can get Bryant. Some said they weren’t willing to give up on Luol Deng. Apparently, while Mark Cuban was doing his ‘Dancing with the Stars’ thing and trying to improve the Dallas Mavericks as always, he nearly got the trade for Kobe Bryant, without actually having to give up on Dirk Nowitzki, to happen.
When I was doing Dancing with the Stars, I was taking breaks because I was talking to Kobe’s agent because Kobe wanted to get traded. Literally, between Dancing with the Stars practices I had thought we traded for Kobe Bryant. I even talked to their owner and thought we were going to have done deal, and Mitch Kupchak changed Kobe’s mind and brought him back.
Since then, Bryant has a no-trade clause in his contract, which by the way makes him the highest paid NBA player. The Lakers went on to win two NBA titles and reach another final. The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title in 2011. I don’t think anyone’s complaining about how things turned out, although Bryant is headed towards another shot at the title with the new crew assembled around him while the Mavs are on the verge of their rebuilding phase in the cycle of an NBA Team’s life.