That wasn’t the first time – for a Kobe trade request or Pistons offer.
Phil Jackson on 1999-00, via Charley Rosen of Today’s Fastbreak:
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.
Hill was still a superstar, before ankle injuries derailed his career. But he was 27 to Kobe’s 21 and in the last year of his contract. Kobe was locked up through 2004.
There’s a reason Jackson didn’t think hard about that offer.
There’s also a reason Kobe stayed in Los Angeles, where he won the first of three straight titles that season. Players make trade requests in frustration more often than realized. It usually passes.
This seems to be one of those minor moments, as opposed to 2007 – when Kobe’s trade saga was very real.