The Lakers Were Immediately Shut Down After Attempting to Offload Kobe Bryant to Acquire LeBron James

Kobe Bryant spent his entire legendary NBA career playing with the LA Lakers. Bryant experienced some incredible moments in a Lakers uniform, but it almost didn’t unfold in that manner in several instances. One of those scenarios came with an attempted trade to move Bryant in exchange for LeBron James.

Kobe Bryant spent his entire illustrious NBA career with the Lakers

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Following entering the NBA as a promising talent straight out of high school, Kobe Bryant quickly spread his wings with the Lakers.

It didn’t take long for Bryant to develop into one of the game’s best players that helped ignite tremendous success in LA. Despite the internal issues with Shaquille O’Neal, the star duo guided the franchised to three NBA titles in four trips to the NBA Finals.

Following those eight years playing alongside O’Neal, Bryant spent the last 12 years of his career, all with the Lakers. However, it didn’t come without some doubt. One of which flared up before winning pair of NBA titles to end the decade.

The Lakers were immediately shut down after attempting to offload Kobe Bryant to acquire LeBron James

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Before the 2007-08 season, Kobe Bryant expressed to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that he wanted a trade from the Lakers.

All that started the rumor mill around Bryant’s future with the franchise. In the few seasons following Shaquille O’Neal’s departure, LA struggled to build a contending team around their star guard. The Lakers were coming off yet another first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Phoenix Suns.

LA didn’t want to move their disgruntled superstar but spoke to various teams about potential trade packages. Among them were the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, but nothing truly came to fruition.

However, the Lakers attempted to swing for the fences during this time as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the team tried to move Bryant to the Cleveland Cavaliers for LeBron James. The Cavaliers quickly shut down the talk around that possibility.

At that time, James was only 22 years old, coming off leading Cleveland to the NBA Finals. He had finished only his fourth season and already established himself as one of the game’s top talents. James had three All-Star selections along with three All-NBA Team selections.

Meanwhile, Bryant was 28 years old amid the prime of his career as arguably the game’s best player. He was coming off a campaign where he averaged a league-best 31.6 points and held two years left on his contract.

A monster trade like this would have shaken up the league, but the Cavaliers had zero interest in moving James in any deal.

LeBron James eventually joins LA

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Following that tumultuous offseason, the Lakers held onto Kobe Bryant, which quickly turned around the following campaign.

Everything changed after the Lakers made the blockbuster trade deadline move to acquire Pau Gasol. His arrival shifted the entire dynamic in LA as they became a powerhouse in the league behind their two stars. It featured them reaching three straight NBA Finals, winning the last two appearances.

Overall, the team won five consecutive Pacific Division titles and went to at least the Western Conference semifinals in each instance. Meanwhile, LeBron James eventually found his way to the Lakers in 2018 through free agency.

In only his second campaign with the Lakers, James guided the Lakers to the 2020 NBA title, his fourth championship overall. The 36-year-old has secured his long-term plans with the franchise through at least the 2022-23 season alongside star big man Anthony Davis.

Although the Lakers had to wait more than a decade, the team has James leading the charge for the foreseeable future.