The Vlade Divac Effect: Analyzing the Ground-Breaking Trade for Kobe Bryant

Kevin Sanchez@LakerDodger24Contributor IIJune 15, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 12: Kobe Bryant #8 and Shaquille O'Neal #34 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after defeating the New Jersey Nets in Game four of the 2002 NBA Finals at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey on June 12, 2002. The Lakers won 112-106 to sweep the series and take the 2002 championship title.  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.  Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright 2002 NBAE  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers drafted Vlade Divac with the 26th overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft. Vlade had a huge impact on the NBA, just not in the way he probably would have hoped.

In 1996, Vlade Divac was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for young, and unproven talent Kobe Bryant. This move would send shock waves through the NBA in the up coming years.

This trade by the Los Angeles Lakers, in my opinion, was the best trade of the past 20 years. It did two things for the team: 1) It brought the young Bryant over to Los Angeles, and 2). It freed up cap space to be able to sign Shaquille O'Neal.

Let's explore what would have happened if Bryant had stayed in Charlotte.

For starters, the Lakers wouldn't have won 3 championships, even if they managed to sign Shaquille O'Neal. They wouldn't have been able to, because of Vlade's contract.

Bryant would have struggled to find his game in his first year, but no doubt would his numbers have been better than the 7.6 points per game he scored.

Meanwhile, O'Neal would have most likely stayed with the Orlando Magic, and might have led them to another NBA Finals berth.

The NBA land scape would be vastly different, as Charlotte basketball probably wouldn't have failed, and they wouldn't have been in position to get Chris Paul later in 2003.

The Lakers would've kept Nick Van Exel, as well as Eddie Jones, and been a capable team, but not a championship contender.

Orlando would've been in no position to get Dwight Howard, and some other lucky NBA team would had the honor (most likely the Chicago Bulls).

Los Angeles wouldn't have had any championships since the 80's, and Charlotte would have probably been in position to get some rings. Kobe Bryant would still have rings, and his career regular season stats would look great, even better than they do now.

Vlade Divac was essential to the Los Angeles Lakers. Without him, 2 different Laker Legends wouldn't be so. And 4, possible 5 (as of this writing) championships wouldn't be in Laker possession.

Vlade Divac sent ripples through the NBA Universe. Just not the way anybody would have expected.


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