Chris Paul Regrets Not Playing With Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant were poised to become teammates in 2011, if it wasn’t for NBA commissioner nixing a trade that would have sent the superstar point guard to the Los Angeles Lakers. All these years later, Paul still regrets not playing with Bryant.Advertisement
What if Bryant and Paul became teammates? Would Bryant have won his sixth championship? Would the Lakers still be a powerhouse team? Those are answers we’ll never know. But at the time, Bryant and Paul spoke profoundly about winning championships together.
Paul was excited about the possibility of playing with Bryant. “It was crazy,” the Clippers superstar told ESPN. “It was exciting. We talked about potentially being teammates and all that stuff like that. Then, in the blink of an eye, gone.”
Killing the dream…
Indeed, the dream was dead. Former commissioner Stern nixed the deal for “basketball reasons,” something that Lakers fans still hold against the league. “WoW,” Paul tweeted at the time.
Soon after the botched trade, Paul was traded to the Clippers. The rest, as they say, is history.
According to Paul, he shared great on-court chemistry with Bryant. “It worked for the Olympic team and stuff like that. I played in a lot of All-Star Games with Kobe. I don’t know how many, but I remember one of them, we said, ‘As long as we’re both on the same team playing this game, we’re not going to lose,’ just because we both know how competitive we are.”
Bryant, who suffered a career-threatening Achilles injury a year after the botched trade, agreed with Paul’s assessment. “When we played together in every All-Star Game, we never f**** around. It was like, ‘Listen, the guys have their fun, but now let’s do what we do.’ I knew how competitive he was, and I knew it would be a perfect fit. We just kind of talked about what we’re going to do, how we’re going to scheme to get things done. Unfortunately, it never happened.”
Chris Paul: ‘L.A. is Kobe’
Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant played together in six All-Star games (2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 203 and 2016) besides winning Olympic gold for the U.S. men’s team in 2008 and 2012. Bryant feels that the Lakers would still be contending for titles if Paul joined the Lakers. “Things would’ve been very, very, very different around here with two of the most competitive people the league has ever seen.”
And even though Paul ended up with the Los Angeles Clippers, he acknowledges that Bryant is still king of the sports scene in the city. “I don’t care what I did when I got here – L.A. is Kobe.”
On Wednesday, Bryant and Paul will share the court once again as the Clippers visit the Lakers.
What could have been? That’s the question Lakers fans still entertain. Perhaps, in another lifetime.