Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently revealed that he nearly acquired late Basketball Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant had publicly requested a trade away from Los Angeles -- which was later rescinded-- in 2007 after a Lakers employee leaked a rumor citing the former All-Star's responsibility in the team trading away center Shaquille O'Neal.
During an interview with Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks, Cuban said he was in serious negotiations with late Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss at the time, which coincided with his run on Dancing with the Stars.
“I thought it was done. I was in Dancing with the Stars, and we practiced a lot, like seven, eight hours a day, because I needed it," Cuban said (h/t NBC Sports). "I was going back and forth with Dr. Buss… he said look, ‘I think we might be parting ways with Kobe.’ I remember it vividly because there was a [production assistant] named Elvis… and he was Kobe, Kobe, Kobe all the time. So it started to happen and I started telling him about it, and that was the kiss of death, because the minute I told Elvis, it all fell apart."
Cuban added that he believes then-Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak "talked Kobe into staying" before negotiations fell through.
Cuban's comments came days after former Detroit Pistons guard and executive Joe Dumars told the Crossover NBA Show with Chris Mannix and Howard Beck that the Pistons also had nearly acquired Bryant via trade.
“Mitch Kupchak and I went back and forth about parameters. This is when Kobe was saying, ‘I want out. Lakers aren’t trying to win. I want out,’" Dumars said (h/t NBC Sports). It was two teams that Mitch felt like had enough pieces to do a deal for Kobe. It was us and Chicago. Mitch called and said, ‘Look, love to work out something with you.’ Take us a couple days to work it out. And then we agreed on the deal.
“At the time, Kobe is the only player that had a no-trade in his contract. So Mitch says, ‘Look, as you know, Joe, Kobe has a no-trade, so he has to approve of this. But we’re gonna take this to him and I’m gonna take this to Dr. Buss.’ He did. Dr. Buss said O.K. They took it to Kobe, and Mitch told me that Kobe said, ‘I need 24 hours or 48 hours or something to discuss this with my family. Like, Look, I need time to discuss it with my family.’ And I think Dr. Buss was like, ‘No, we need an answer in the next day’ or whatever. And Kobe didn’t want to be forced into having to make a decision that quick…
“He didn’t make a decision in 24 hours. And Dr. Buss said, ‘That’s it; I’m out. We tried to make a deal. You wouldn’t make a decision. We’re gonna move forward.’ And the trade was done.”
The Lakers later convinced Bryant to stay ahead of the 2007-08 season, which resulted in a Western Conference championship after Los Angeles acquired Pau Gasol in a blockbuster trade, with the duo winning two NBA championships during the next two seasons.
Bryant spent his entire career with the Lakers before retiring in 2016.