Kobe Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007, and he really wanted out:
Asked if he had any preference for a trade destination, he said “At this point I’ll go play on Pluto.”
That wasn’t quite true, though.
I said, “I gave you a list of teams I’m comfortable being traded to. That wasn’t one of them. So, no.”
Chicago was my No. 1 choice.
The Bulls and Lakers tried to negotiate a trade with Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon and Joakim Noah coming up as key pieces who could go to Los Angeles. But Kobe was wary of Chicago surrendering Deng and weakening his new team, and a deal never happened.
Kobe wasn’t traded to the Mavericks, another team that negotiated for him, either. He stayed with the Lakers and won a couple more championships.
But, wow, this is one heck of a “What if?”
Kobe would have put himself even further into Michael Jordan’s shadow, though that’s never something he feared, even once wanting to sign with Jordan’s Wizards. The Lakers would probably have two fewer championships. The Bulls, depending what they gave up, could have another. Derrick Rose would probably be somewhere else. The gap between the Western Conference and Eastern Conference might not be so pronounced.
If Kobe had gotten his wish, the entire NBA landscape would have changed. He’s that powerful.