This is a great look back at one of the all time great moves in NBA History. The day the mastermind Jerry West traded for the young rook’ Kobe Bryant…
Hoops4theSoul: Jerry West was not only one of the greatest players in NBA history – his likeness appears in the league’s logo for heaven’s sake – he is also one of the shrewdest general managers and talent evaluators that the league has ever seen.
At no time was this more apparent than the summer of 1996 when West acquired two future Hall of Famers in the matter of weeks.
West began his wheeling and dealing with a crafty draft day move in which he sent popular center Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights of the 13th selection in the 1996 NBA Draft – a high school phenom named Kobe Bryant out of Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania.
While this trade wouldn’t become official until this day 12 years ago, West hardly hung his hat on just the potential of Bryant but rather created shockwaves in free agency when he lured away center Shaquille O’Neal in his prime from a contending Orlando Magic team.
Just as Divac helped bridged the gap at the five position between Kareem Abdul Jabbar and the Lakers next great center, West’s aggressive acquisition of O’Neal for seven years and $120 million and foresight to trade for Bryant would held bridge the gap between the post-Showtime hangover (in which Magic Johnson retired and came out of retirement several times) and a Chicago Bulls dynasty that was still reigning but clearly in its latter years.