Everybody knows that, back in 2011, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul came thisclose to becoming teammates. The Lakers, Rockets, and Hornets agreed to a three-team trade that would have sent CP3 to Los Angeles before then-NBA Commissioner David Stern nixed the deal due to, er, “basketball reasons.” But it’s still amazing to hear just how close that trade came to going down.

ESPN.com asked Kobe about the trade recently, and he revealed that the trade was such a sure thing that he spent about half an hour talking to CP3 on the phone one day in early December 2011. He was working out at a gym in LA when CP3 called him, and the two talked at length about how they were going to start racking up championships as soon as CP3 arrived.

“You know me,” Kobe told ESPN.com. “My dream isn’t to win games. It’s like, ‘How many of these titles are we going to win?’ Because if we don’t win, we’re a failure.”

“It was crazy,” CP3 added during a subsequent interview with ESPN.com. “It was exciting. We talked about potentially being teammates and all that stuff like that. Then, in the blink of an eye, gone.”

Gone is right. If you don’t remember, this was CP3’s reaction at the time:

CP3 did end up coming to LA—but he did it to play with the Clippers, not the Lakers. And according to Kobe, that changed the way the last few years of his career went. In his mind, those titles that the two stars talked about could have and would have become a reality.

“Things would’ve been very, very, very different around here,” he said, “with two of the most competitive people the league has ever seen.”

We don’t disagree. Kobe might have tied or surpassed Michael Jordan’s six rings...if not for those pesky “basketball reasons.”

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[via ESPN]