Kobe Bryant Was Almost a Detroit Piston
As the world mourns the loss of one of its greatest basketball stars, we walk you back to a time when the Pistons were the envy of the NBA, and almost finagled the Lakers out of Kobe.
It was 2007, and the Detroit Pistons were in the midst of a streak of reaching the Eastern Conference finals for six straight years, but the team was waning, and Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars heard of Kobe Bryant's dissatisfaction with the Los Angeles Lakers, so a deal was put on the table.
Detroit would trade stars Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Amir Johnson and a first-round pick to the Lakers in return for Bryant, then at the top of his game.
While Detroit was not on Bryant's list of preferred destinations, he had actually changed his mind about wanting to leave LA. Yahoo! Sports reports,
The Lakers had agreed to a deal to send Bryant to the Pistons and needed Bryant's approval to waive his no-trade clause. The package included a combination of Detroit's core players and draft picks, sources say. Buss and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak needed an answer soon, because they refused to let the issue linger into training camp.
Looking back, Bryant isn't sure it would've mattered whether it was Detroit or Chicago, Dallas or New York. In that moment, in Buss' house in the hills, it washed over Bryant how much staying a Laker for life meant to him, how no matter how dire the state of the franchise seemed, that Buss had a history of restoring the Lakers to championship contention.
"It hit me that I didn't really want to walk out on Dr. Buss," Bryant told Yahoo! Sports (in 2013).