Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has recently revealed that Kobe Bryant was seriously considering leaving the Lakers for the Clippers back in 2004. Though the information may not be new for NBA fans, many might not have understood just how close it was to becoming a reality.
Buss sat down to discuss the memory on the ALL THE SMOKE podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, recalling seeing Bryant one day show up to a game clearly wearing Clippers colors. Though a subtle nod to the Lakers’ rivals, Buss said, “I can see he likes challenges, and that would’ve been a huge thing. I think that [Bryant’s departure] was something that was very possible.”
At the time, Bryant was mulling over his options, especially when it became evident that he and long-time teammate Shaquille O’Neal could no longer coexist on the same team. Bryant was reportedly extremely close to signing with the Clippers as the team considered putting a full-court press on Bryant, while toying with the idea of bringing the team to Orange County.
After Bryant’s death, former Laker and current Clippers consultant Jerry West confirmed that he spoke to Kobe about the decision, upon hearing that Bryant had taken a meeting with the Clippers. However, as time has shown, Bryant ended up staying with the Lakers, signing a seven-year deal one day after O’Neil was traded to the Miami Heat.
Watch Jeanie Buss recall the Kobe Bryant memory above.
In other sports news, LaMelo Ball is cleared for individual basketball activity.