LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have so much in common. They are two of the best basketball players of all time. No, we won’t even touch the GOAT debate in this article. Both Kobe and LeBron won games with the Los Angeles Lakers. But, do you know that the Lakers wanted young LeBron to replace Kobe with LeBron?
In 2007, the Black Mamba played with the Lakers. LeBron was winning games with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
LeBron was 22 at that time, and he was really great. Kobe, on the other hand, had issues with his Lakers teammates. Kobe and the Lakers couldn’t hit the top after Shaquille O’Neal was shipped to the Miami Heat in 2004. This raised so many questions. Was Kobe able to lead his Lakers team to another NBA title?
“At that time, the Lakers had to do something. I was just losing faith in what they were trying to do. It was like I was a meal ticket,” Bryant had told ESPN in 2016. “You come out and score 40, 50 points, fill the seats, we’re going to keep the payroll at a minimum, generate revenue. It’s like, look, listen, I am not with that, dude. I have to win without Shaq. I’ve got to do it. We’ve got to do something.”
LeBron didn’t replace Kobe
The Lakers front office wanted to engage in a trade deal. Bryant had a good relationship with the team’s management, and he shared his favorite teams. He had picked his next home.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Lakers once contacted the Cavs. They wanted to know if Cleveland is interested in trading LeBron away. Was there any chance for LeBron to end up in LA? The Lakers made an offer, but the Cavaliers didn’t want to replace LeBron with Kobe. They’d never trade away their best player. The Cavaliers front office didn’t even want to talk about any trade. They wanted to keep LeBron for good.
LeBron was a rising star and Cleveland didn’t want to give up on him at that point. Kobe was a big name back then, but the Cavs didn’t even want to hear about it. In 2016, LeBron talked about the offer. He said, “If you give up one big fish, you got to get a big fish, too.”
LeBron and Kobe never confronted each other in the NBA playoffs. What could have happened in 2008? How would LeBron fit in the Lakers organization back then?