Well, this would certainly have made for an interesting time in the NBA.
According to a report from ESPN.com, the Lakers once made an inquiry to the Cavaliers about trading Kobe Bryant for LeBron James in 2007 in what would have been the trade of all trades for the Association:
According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the event, the Lakers once contacted the Cavs to investigate whether Cleveland would make James available in a possible Bryant trade.
In the summer of 2007, Bryant was 28 years old and coming off a season where he averaged 32 points a game and shot 46 percent from the field. He had three rings and would win his first Most Valuable Player award the following season.
Bryant was under contract for two more seasons, but was frustrated with the Lakers after three consecutive subpar seasons following the Shaquille O’Neal trade.
Apparently, Bryant sounded open to the idea. That makes sense given it was around that time when Bryant was stumping to get out of L.A.
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“At that time, the Lakers had to do something. I was just losing faith in what they were trying to do. It was like I was a meal ticket,” Bryant told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes (via ESPN.com). “You come out and score 40, 50 points, fill the seats, we’re going to keep the payroll at a minimum, generate revenue. It’s like, look, listen, I am not with that, dude. I have to win without Shaq. I’ve got to do it. We’ve got to do something.”
Obviously, the trade never happened, but this report details one of the most compelling “what-ifs” in NBA history.