In 1996, Kobe Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets 13th overall but was soon traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac, and the course of basketball’s future was forever changed that day. It is now being revealed that this then blockbuster trade almost never happened.
Divac was drafted by the LA Lakers in 1989 and by the 1996 season offseason, then Lakers general manager Jerry West wanted to get Kobe Bryant and then sign free Shaquille O’Neal. This would mean that some of the team’s cap space had to be cleared in order to facilitate O’Neal’s contract, for this to happen Vlade Divac had to be shipped out of town. West agreed in principle to a trade with the Hornets that would have Bryant come to Los Angeles, but unfortunately, Divac did not want to play in Charlotte. Once notified of the trade, he made the decision to retire, which would make the deal null and void.
My feelings were that I play basketball for fun. This is not fun,” Divac recently told Yahoo Sports about the 1996 draft-day deal that sent him to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Bryant, who is expected to play his final game in Sacramento on Thursday. “If somebody asked before, ‘Vlade, are you going to play basketball over there [in Charlotte]?’ It’s not going to happen. I talked to my wife and told her, ‘Look, I’m going to retire.
As fate would have it, Jerry West had an “emotional meeting” with Vlade Divac, talking him out of retirement, and the deal was later solidified, bringing Kobe to LA and the Lakers then signed Shaq to a 7-year $120 Million contract.
And that is how a dynasty is created folks.