There were plenty of ups and downs throughout Kobe Bryant's 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. He formed one of the NBA's greatest ever duos with Shaquille O'Neal to three-peat in the early 2000s.
After O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat in 2004 following the Lakers' loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, team success was harder to come by for the Lakers.
Bryant's Lakers failed to make the playoffs during the 2004-05 season and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the two following seasons. Meanwhile, O'Neal, who was teamed up with Dwyane Wade, achieved two Eastern Conference Finals appearances and one successful NBA Finals run (2006).
Bryant requested a trade from the Lakers in 2007 following the team's three mediocre seasons since trading O'Neal. When considering Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks were a perennial contention threat and pulled off a 2006 NBA Finals appearance, they were an intriguing landing spot.
The pressure that Bryant had placed on the Lakers organization resulted in eventually trading for Pau Gasol. The move was integral in the giving Bryant the help he needed to achieve two more NBA titles and three NBA Finals appearances.
The story of the Mavericks pursuing a trade for Kobe Bryant in 2007 was among the highlights of a recent 1-on-1 live interview Cuban participated in with Bleacher Report.
“I thought it was done," Cuban said. "I was going back and forth with Dr. Buss. I think he called me… and said, ‘Look, we think we might be parting ways with Kobe.”
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Cuban explained why the trade for Bryant unravelled before being finalized. Bryant was talked into recommitting to the Lakers after talking with general manager Mitch Kupchak.
"Mitch Kupchak talked Kobe into staying," Cuban explained. "It was just like DeAndre (Jordan). Not the same same, but when a guy that's key to your team wants to leave, you're going to do everything you can to keep him."
The possibilities when imagining how hypothetical scenarios are fascinating to ponder. In this instance, a potential dynamic duo with Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki would undoubtedly would rank atop the list of "what ifs" in Mavericks history.
The Mavericks did end up winning the 2011 NBA Finals without needing to make a blockbuster trade for a co-star to pair with Nowitzki. With a well-built supporting cast around their superstar, they overcome many star-studded teams along the way to a successful title run.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.
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