LeBron James, Kobe Bryant Reportedly Were at Center of 2007 Trade Talks

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, right, drives toward the basket as Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, in Los Angeles.  The Cavaliers won 109-102. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly go down as two of the greatest players in NBA history, but based on a new report, they could have been part of one of the biggest trades the sport has ever seen as well.

According to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, multiple sources revealed that the Los Angeles Lakers called the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 to gauge their interest in a potential deal involving the Black Mamba and King James.   

Per Windhorst, L.A. made the call during the 2007 offseason on the heels of the 28-year-old Bryant putting up 31.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. LeBron was just 22 years of age and four years into his NBA career, but he enjoyed a dominant campaign with per-game averages of 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

The Cavaliers declined the proposal and deemed James untouchable, and while they offered any other player on their roster in exchange for Kobe, the Lakers weren't interested.

According to Windhorst, LeBron told ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin that he buys in to the report: "I believe it. If you give up one big fish, you got to give a big fish too," he said.

Despite the potential authenticity of the offer, it appears as though it never could have happened because of Bryant's no-trade clause.

Per Windhorst, Kobe told ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes that there were only three teams he would have approved a trade to, and the Cavs weren't among them.

"I never would've approved it. Never. The trade to go to Cleveland? Never. That wasn't one of the teams that was on my list. It was Chicago, San Antonio [or] Phoenix," Bryant said.

While he had requested a trade in May 2007 and a deal of some kind appeared to be imminent, Kobe and the Lakers managed to get back on the same page.

It ended up being a great move for both parties, as L.A. won the NBA championship in both 2009 and 2010 under the 18-time All Star's guidance.

LeBron, on the other hand, left Cleveland via free agency in 2010 and won two titles with the Miami Heat. But he returned home in 2014.

While James and Bryant would have gone down as legends regardless of the trade-talk results, the status quo was probably best for everyone.

Kobe's career means a little bit more than it would have otherwise due to the fact that he never played for a team other than the Lakers, and LeBron's triumphant return to Cleveland reinvigorated the Cavs fanbase, which is something that may never have happened had the trade gone down.

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