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For years now, there’s been a rumor floating around about how Kobe Bryant almost got traded to the Pistons back in 2007 in exchange for Rip Hamilton and a couple other Detroit players. That rumor has been confirmed by Kobe himself, but the details surrounding it are still shrouded in mystery. Was Kobe the one who ultimately pulled the plug on the deal as he suggested during an interview with Yahoo! Sports in 2013—or did the Lakers decide that the trade wasn’t in the best interest of their franchise at the time?
CBS Sports just put together a story about one of the greatest NBA trades that never happened, and as part of it, they asked Hamilton—who now works for CBS Sports—to speak about what he knows about the trade. And he revealed that, when news about the potential deal first started popping up back in 2007, he went straight to Kobe to find out whether or not he should take it seriously.
Hamilton talks about the trade in the video above. We’ve also transcribed what he had to say and included it below so that you can read along and find out what Kobe told him when Hamilton went to talk to him about the trade during NBA All-Star Weekend in 2007. Here’s the story:
First of all, as an NBA player, you hear your name in trade rumors all the time. A lot of them are true, but the majority of them are false. It’s just a beat writer puts out something, and people believe it.
But I remember that time. I was actually on the bus and we were going to a game and we looked at the Detroit News and somebody had written in there saying that the Los Angeles Lakers were thinking about making a trade with the Detroit Pistons involving Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Price for Kobe Bryant. I’m thinking to myself, ‘This can’t be true.’ The reason why I said it can’t be true is that just a couple years earlier, we had beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the championship. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘If they had been willing to make that trade with the Detroit Pistons, [Pistons general manager] Joe [Dumars] would have said something to me.’ He never said anything to me, so I said, ‘It couldn’t have been true.’
Then, I said, ‘Why not hear it from the horse’s mouth?’ I went away to the All-Star Game, so me and Kobe could talk face-to-face. When we got to the All-Star Game, I said, ‘Hey man, was Detroit thinking about trading for you, or were you thinking about coming to Detroit?’ He said, ‘Rip, you know, I have a no-trade clause in my contract, so wherever they’re thinking about trading me, I have to agree on it.’ I said, ‘Was Detroit an option?’ Because I wanted to know for my future. I felt like I wanted to retire as a Piston. He said to me, ‘Rip, Detroit wasn’t one of those teams.’ He said, ‘Chicago was one of those teams, but Detroit wasn’t.’ I was like, ‘Alright, cool, perfect.’
I think it was close to happening. When I had that conversation with him, he told me about the trade, so I knew they were thinking about it. But at the end of the day, he had a no-trade kicker, so in order for them to make the trade, he had to sign off on it. And he didn’t sign off on it…I do believe if he would have signed off on it, I would have been a Los Angeles Laker, and he would have been a Detroit Piston.
Can you imagine Kobe retiring as…a Piston? How weird would that have been?
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[via CBS Sports]