Mark Cuban says that NBA history was close to being very different.
In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, the Mavericks owner told the story of how close Kobe came to playing in Dallas.
As you probably expected, the story takes place while Cuban was rehearsing for Dancing With The Stars.
In 2007, the Mavs owner was working on his ballroom dancing technique when he wound up on the phone with late Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
“I was going back and forth with Dr. Buss, and I forgot who called who, I think he called me, actually, and said, ‘Look, we think we might be parting ways with Kobe,’” he said.
At the time, Bryant was growing unhappy in purple and gold. So a trade was mutually beneficial for him and the team.
Of course, Cuban was intrigued and started trying to work out a deal for the basketball legend. He had pretty much sealed the deal when he made a mistake and started razzing a Dancing with the Stars production assistant named Elvis who was a big Lakers fan. Especially Kobe.
That’s the kind of thing you don’t say until it is 100%, absolutely going to happen. It’s probably best not to share that news out loud until Kobe is sitting at the press conference holding up a Mavs jersey.
That’s because it fell through.
Kobe Had A Change Of Heart
Mark Cuban probably had an awkward run-in with Elvis the PA when it was clear that the trade had fallen through and Kobe would stay in Los Angeles for the rest of his career.
But what happened?
According to Cuban, Lakers’ general manager Mitch Kupchak convinced Kobe to stay. It turned out to be a good move. As Cuban mentioned on the podcast, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol not long after. He was a major factor in the team winning a pair of championships in 2009 and 2010.
Still, Cuban was more than willing to talk about what might have been had the trade been finalized.
“It would’ve been damn good,” Cuban said. Dallas star center Dirk Nowitzki was concerned he would be part of a Kobe trade package.
“Dirk was like, ‘I would’ve traded me for Kobe,’ and I’m like, ’No, I’m not gonna trade you, Dirk, that’s the whole point,” the Mavericks owner said.
While they didn’t have Kobe Bryant on their roster, the Mavericks still found success. They went on to win the NBA Championship in 2011; the year after the Lakers’ back-to-back titles.
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