Kobe Bryant retired as a Los Angeles Laker for life, but Phil Jackson revealed in a recent interview that the Purple and Gold briefly entertained the thought of dealing him for another superstar a couple of seasons into his Hollywood tenure.
Speaking to Charley Rosen of Today's Fastbreak, Jackson said a trade proposal was on the table during the 1999-00 season that would have sent Bryant to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Grant Hill—whose career was ultimately derailed by ankle injuries:
Kobe was only averaging about 19 points per game. So Kobe called Jerry West and wanted to know how Jerry and Elgin Baylor both averaged 30 points. Kobe also said that he wanted to be traded. Of course, Jerry told me about the conversation. And, for a few minutes I thought about taking the Pistons up on an offer they made to trade Kobe for Grant Hill. Make that a few seconds.
Jackson made a prudent decision by not satisfying Bryant's request, and the rest is history. Kobe and Jackson teamed up for five championships in Los Angeles, and Bryant went down in history as one of the greatest Lakers ever.
|Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill Career Comparison|
However, Bryant's connection with Detroit cropped up again in 2007, when he was nearly dealt to the Pistons after demanding a trade.
According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski: "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."
However, Bryant refused to waive his no-trade clause because Detroit wasn't one of the franchises he had pinpointed as an acceptable landing spot.
Because he nixed the deal to Detroit, Bryant's legacy benefited immensely.
While he could have succeeded in the Motor City, the NBA's third all-time leading scorer added two rings to his collection in 2009 and 2010 with Jackson back at the helm, as the duo helped bolster the Lakers' dynastic standing in NBA lore.