Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he nearly traded for Kobe Bryant in 2007

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Last night, the world look on in amazement as Kobe Bryant brought to a close his 20-year NBA career to confirm his place as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

What makes Kobe's career all the more remarkable - besides the 18 All-Star appearances and five championship rings - is that he spent his whole career with the L.A. Lakers.

It's quite fitting really, as the Black Mamba was a self-proclaimed 'die-hard' Lakers fan growing up. However, after he became frustrated with the Lakers direction back in 2007, the Kobe/Lakers love affair was nearly brought to a premature end.

Vino was reportedly upset that Shaquille O'Neal had left the Lakers and gone on to win a championship with the Miami Heat. Kobe was still trying to prove that he could win titles without his old partner in crime who had helped him win the first three of what would eventually be five rings.

In 2007, Kobe decided he wanted to move away from the Lakers to pursue more championships, with the Chicago Bulls - the primary home of his idol Michael Jordan - his preferred choice.

However, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said following Kobe's 60-point swansong against the Utah Jazz that he had reached an agreement with the Lakers front office for Bryant during that period.

"I could have sworn that we had a deal done for Josh Howard and Jet," said Cuban, referring to Jason Terry.

With all due respect to those two players, that would have been quite an unbelievable trade for the Mavericks, and an awfully lop-sided one. One has to believe they would have handed a couple of first round picks, too.

Cuban was part of the celebrity cast on 'Dancing With the Stars' that summer and he was so adamant the deal was done he began spreading the news.

"I was telling all the stagehands at 'Dancing With the Stars' it was done," said Cuban. "Then Mitch [Kupchak] or Jerry Buss or whoever talked him out of it."

Dallas had just been to the NBA Finals the previous season but lost 4-2 to O'Neal's Miami Heat. The following season, they would record an impressive 67 regular season wins before suffering a shock first-round knock-out to the Golden State Warriors, who were a very different proposition to what they are today.

Had the trade of come to fruition, it would have linked Bryant with Dirk Nowitzki and both would have been in their respective primes. Although the Mavs would finally grab an NBA title in 2011, Cuban rues how different things could have been.

"It would have been different," Cuban said. "That's all I can say. Woulda, coulda, shoulda."

In fact, Nowitzki was prepared to sacrifice himself so that the Mavericks could bring a game-changer like Bryant aboard. Cuban, however, wouldn't hear of it.

"I do remember Dirk coming to me and saying, 'Look, if you can trade me for Kobe, you've gotta do it,'" Cuban said. "I was like, 'Dirty, that's not gonna happen.'"

Kobe Bryant
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Dirk Nowitzki
Dallas Mavericks
Southwest Division

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