Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time and the Black Mamba famously played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant brought 5 NBA Championships to the Staples Center and remains one of the biggest legends in the history of that franchise.
So it's a surprise to know that Kobe was almost traded to the Chicago Bulls during his career. Bryant had a famously torrid relationship with his co-star during his first 3 championships, Shaquille O'Neal. The duo sat down in 2018 for a face-to-face conversation and among all the things they spoke about, they addressed Kobe's potential move to the Bulls.
Shaq: If you can remember, that summer, we were playing in Hawaii. I think I was trying to get some new money. I had a nice little game in Hawaii, and I ran by the great Jerry Buss, and I was like 'pay me, pay me.' So I kinda new he was upset with that. After the game in the Finals, we lost, we had that team dinner. He came in and he sat by you, and your beautiful wife Vanessa, he didn't say nothing to me. I said to myself, 'uh oh, I'm in trouble.'
So two days later, me and little Shareef and Mimi, we're at the counter, Muholland estate eating Frosted Flakes, and I hear Mitch Kupchak say we will be taking inquiries on Shaq. I just dropped the bowl, like, 'what?' I jumped in the car and I came down here to see Mitch, and the cops were already waiting. 'You can't come in here Shaq.'
Kobe: He had the cops waiting for you, huh?
Shaq: Yeah, cause he knew, cause he knew. I was coming out here to choke his ass. I was gonna choke the air outta Mitch Kupchak.
Kobe: See I didn't get any of that, cause we were looking for homes. We were actually looking for homes in Chicago, researching schools, places to live.
Shaq: So that was true, you were gonna go to the Bulls?
Kobe: Yeah. There was a story in ESPN, I think it was ESPN Magazine, and they asked you a question about me and Penny. And you said we were essentially the same. And I looked at that and said, uh, 'no, we're not.'
Shaq: But I think you took that the wrong way, because of all the misquotes and the bad stuff.
Kobe: I probably did, and I probably used it as motivation too. Saying, listen, if this is the conversation, I don't want this conversation. When I retire, I don't want people to say, 'OK, he only won because of Shaq.' As unfair as that is, Magic never won without Cap, right? Michael never won without Scottie. But here I am, getting stuck with this argument, which is not fair, yet this is the argument people will make, and I'm not OK with that. Therefore, I knew OK, I gotta go.
Shaq: I had actually heard that, but I didn't believe it.
Kobe: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We were looking for places in Chicago, man, we were flying up there to meet with Reinsdorf and Paxson.
Shaq: You were gonna leave sunny California to go to cold-ass Chicago?
Kobe: Vanessa signed off on moving to out to, Lake Forest, I think it was in Chicago. We went on vacation to Italy, and I got a phone call. Rob Pelinka called me, and he said, 'Shaq just requested a trade.' I was like, 'well there goes Chicago, because there was no way the Lakers are gonna lose me and Shaq in the same year.'
Considering Kobe's well-know admiration for Michael Jordan, this move wouldn't have been too far out of the left-field. Still, it's incredible to imagine what might have been if Bryant had made the move to the Windy City after all. Chicago are still without a title since then and it's impossible to believe that would have been the case had they managed to acquire Kobe. In the last 20 years, there have been 5 superstars that almost played for the Bulls but none of those moves materialized either.