You know what makes sports so riveting? It’s that, every once in a while, the impossible somehow becomes a reality. As you’ve probably heard by now, the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers have pulled off what might be considered the trade of the century, with Boston sending Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to LA in exchange for a pair of high-ceiling arms, two promising young talents and a lot of salary relief.
Across town, the Los Angeles Lakers, pulled off one of the most stunning trades in franchise history, in a four-team deal that shipped big man Dwight Howard from Disney World to the Staples Center. On the heels of the biggest blockbuster trades in MLB and NBA history, Life + Times takes a look back at the top history making, franchise-changing deals that have changed the landscape of sports.
Kobe Goes to Los Angeles
The Deal: The 1996 NBA draft was the 50th draft in NBA history. The first guard to ever be taken out of high school, Kobe Bryant was selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. According to Arn Tellem, Bryant’s agent at the time, Kobe playing for the Hornets was “an impossibility.” However, Bill Branch, the Hornets’ head scout at the time, said that the Hornets agreed to trade their draft selection to the Lakers before picking Bryant. On July 1, 1996, then-Los Angeles Lakers’ manager Jerry West traded starting center Vlade Divac to Charlotte in exchange for the 17-year-old’s draft rights.
The Impact: Arguably one of the greatest basketball players to ever touch a rock, the Black Mamba led the Lakers to five NBA championships – three consecutive with Shaquille O’Neal and back-to-back titles from 2009-10. In 2006, Bryant scored a career-high 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points for a single game in NBA history. In 2008, he was named league MVP. And in the ’09 and ’10 Finals he was Finals MVP. The 14-time NBA All-Star and two-time league scoring champion (’06-’07) is the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history and ranks fifth and third on the Association’s all-time regular-season (29, 484) and postseason scoring list (5,250), respectively.