Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t always have a glamorous marriage.
There were multiple times in Bryant’s 20-year career that the star guard requested a trade. Whether it was following in Michael Jordan’s footsteps with the Chicago Bulls or carving out his own legacy on another team, Bryant often wanted the Los Angeles Lakers to set him free.
One such instance came in 2007. If Bryant had his way that year, he would have gone from wearing a Lakers jersey to the same one Jordan wore a decade prior.
Kobe Bryant is an NBA legend
It still feels weird, nearly 10 months later, to type the “late” Kobe Bryant.
Bryant retired in April 2016 as one of the greatest players in NBA history, having averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 rebounds in 20 seasons.
The 18-time All-Star won five NBA titles, an MVP Award, had a legendary 81-point game in 2006, and accomplished so much more across those two decades.
The Black Mamba saved some of his best basketball for the postseason. Bryant averaged 25.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per night in 220 career playoff outings.
The basketball world is still mourning Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash earlier this year. Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others died on January 26 in Calabasas, Calif.
Bryant wanted the Lakers to trade him numerous times
History and narratives could very well change Kobe Bryant’s legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers and paint them as a happily married couple for 20 years.
The start and the end were a bright and successful marriage, yes, but the middle had its bumps and bruises. Bryant requested numerous trades over the years, especially after the Lakers traded Shaquille O’Neal in 2004.
Many of those trade requests came between 2005-07. The Lakers, who won three titles at the start of the decade, had fallen off and were a middling Western Conference team.
Instead of playing alongside Shaq, Bryant’s starting center was Kwame Brown. Once that thought sank in, Bryant understandably wanted the Lakers to set him free.
Kobe Bryant considered the Chicago Bulls his ‘No. 1 choice’ in 2007
Kobe Bryant won the NBA MVP Award after the 2007-08 season, and the Los Angeles Lakers made the NBA Finals that year.
Things weren’t so great between both sides a few months earlier. Bryant famously wanted the Lakers to trade him in 2007.
In a 2015 appearance on ESPN’s The Grantland Basketball Hour, Bryant said the Chicago Bulls were his “No. 1 choice in 2007. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Bulls backed out because they did not want to trade forward Luol Deng.
Bryant said he declined a deal to play in Detroit. The Pistons would have traded Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and several draft picks to the Lakers.
Bryant said he would not have felt comfortable playing in Detroit.
The idea of Kobe Bryant playing for the Chicago Bulls in his prime would have been fascinating. Bryant and LeBron James, then in his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, would have played several times a year — not just two — and even squared off in the playoffs.
In the end, things worked out for Bryant and the Lakers. But Bulls fans have to wonder just what would have happened if the Bulls agreed to trade Luol Deng.