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This past season Kobe Bryant played his 20th and final season for the Lakers. No player in NBA history spent more time with one franchise than Bryant did with his Lakers. As historic and prestigious of an accomplishment as that is now, it could have never happened, twice.
There was the trade request saga back in 2007, when Bryant was the best player on the planet, but in desperate pursuit of regaining his championship contending and winning ways. The Lakers eventually got Pau Gasol one year later and went onto play in three straight NBA Finals.
But, back in the 1999-2000, the Mamba was frustrated as his new head coach Phil Jackson didn’t utilize him the way he wanted to be utilized and he felt neglected and held back because of this. In a meeting with Jerry West, a 21-year-old Bryant requested that the Lakers trade him. The Detroit Pistons offered 27-year-old Grant Hill for the prodigy, something Jackson reveals he considered for a “few seconds”. The Lakers went onto win the NBA Championship that season and two more after that. Check out the details via The Phil Jackson Chronicles:
“When Kobe was healed and ready to return, I was a bit reluctant to make a major alteration in our winning combination. So I suggested that Kobe come off the bench. ‘I don’t see myself not starting,’ was his response. ‘I don’t want to be known as a bench player.’ Here was a 20-year-old already concerned about his legacy. So we had a little pushback, an indication of what might lie ahead.
“A couple of weeks later, we’re still winning and Shaq is completely motivated. But 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.
“The thing was that Kobe already saw himself as being one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. I thought that, in time, he would indeed reach that goal.