Shawn Kemp has told the story of how the Los Angeles Lakers almost traded him instead of the Seattle Supersonics. Kemp became one of the best big men of his generation and the Sonics took advantage of that. They played in the NBA Finals in 1996 and even though Michael Jordan ruined their plans to win the championship, the Sonics were a very fun team to watch and one of the strongest squads in the league.
Kemp was the biggest figure of the team alongside Gary Payton but he could have played with the Los Angeles Lakers if the purple and gold carried out their plans to hide Kemp and land him in the 1989 NBA draft. During a recent appearance on The Players’ Tribune’s Knuckleheads Podcast with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson, Kemp told the story of how Magic Johnson and the Lakers were trying to secure his services but after he realized the Lakers could have sent him overseas, Kemp started visiting NBA teams.
“Magic hooked me up with some agents,” he said. “I left Trinity Valley [Community College] and moved to LA. The Lakers were hiding me out in LA for months. But that year the Lakers won the Championship. So I was thinking… They might try to send me overseas.
“It was four days before the draft and I started going out and visiting teams. I only visited four or five teams. Seattle was the first team that I visited,” he continued.
“I was indulged to go to Seattle and play for them simply because they had a Black coach and I thought he could help me out and relate to me in more ways than one.”
That was the best decision he made. Kemp became a pretty big deal in Seattle and they were always contenders, although they just played in one Finals. Kemp is now considered an icon in Seattle and he loves the city as much as it loves him. It would’ve been interesting to see what would have happened if he was selected by the Lakers and teamed up with Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Byron Scott.