Phil Jackson nearly flipped Los Angeles Lakers history, and considered trading Kobe Bryant during the 1999-2000 season for Detroit Pistons Star Grant Hill.
In an interview with TodaysFastbreak, via ESPN, Jackson described the “few minutes” he thought about taking Detroit up on their offer for Hill after Bryant expressed displeasure in a bench role and requested a trade.
“Make that a few seconds,” Jackson continued.
Although Jackson said he truly thought about taking the offer, he maintained Bryant “was not going to be traded.”
Of course Jackson and Bryant saw their fair share of bumps in the road, they also enjoyed immense success, as the duo supplanted their respective places in history as one of the best coach-player pairings ever.
How different would things have ended in Los Angeles, and Detroit for that matter, if the deal had gone through? Would Bryant have one-man banded his way to a title in the Motor City? Would Shaquille O’Neal have stuck around to play with Hill in Los Angeles even through the repeated injuries?
It’s fun to imagine what the landscape of the NBA would have been like, but in reality, Bryant remains one of the best to ever play the game despite his sometimes rocky relationships within the Lakers organization.