Kobe Bryant to the Detroit Pistons: The Trade That Never Happened

Mike B.Correspondent IJanuary 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 04:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles in front of Rodney Stuckey #3 of the Detroit Pistons at the Staples Center on January 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Back in 2007, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant demanded a trade.

The future Hall of Fame guard was frustrated with management, which was failing to surround him with a championship-level supporting cast.

A rumor later emerged that the Lakers agreed to send Bryant to the Detroit Pistons, but he used his no-trade clause to veto the trade.

Supposedly, the deal would have sent Bryant to the Motor City in exchange for Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Amir Johnson and a first-round draft pick.

Bryant, of course, never ended up being traded anywhere. And the Lakers eventually stepped up and acquired All-Star big man Pau Gasol, who would help the team capture back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.

But just think if Bryant really did wind up in Detroit.   

Yes, it's difficult to picture him sporting the Pistons' blue, red and white instead of the Lakers' gold and purple, but just use your imagination for a moment.

There would've been a lot of not-so-happy fans in the city of Los Angeles, that's for sure. Hamilton and Prince, two key members of the Pistons' 2004 championship team that beat the Lakers, were both solid players, but neither were on Bryant's level. And neither Johnson nor a late first-round pick would've made Laker fans excited either. 

Detroit fans would've been pretty thrilled, though. The addition of Bryant could've helped them get over the Pistons' frustrating loss to Cleveland in the '07 Eastern Conference Finals.

And by acquiring Bryant, Pistons president Joe Dumars might have made up for his decision to take Darko Milicic instead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the 2003 NBA draft. 

A few months before the Kobe-to-Detroit rumor, the Boston Celtics had assembled the "Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who led the team to a title their first season together.

The Pistons would've featured a great trio as well with Bryant, Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace. Would they have powered the team to a title like the stars in Boston managed to do?

Who knows. 

All we know is that Bryant remained in L.A.—where he'll likely be until he retires—and never packed his bags for Michigan. 

It's fun to think "what if," though.