Phil Jackson revealed that the Los Angeles Lakers briefly -- very briefly -- considered swapping Kobe Bryant for Grant Hill during the 1999-2000 season.
That trade -- a deal that would've changed the course of recent NBA history -- was never close to consummation, according to Jackson.
It came about because Bryant wasn't happy with the idea of coming off of the bench early in the 1999-2000 season -- Jackson's first with the Lakers -- and requested a trade.
"For a few minutes, I thought about taking the Pistons up on an offer they made to trade Kobe for Grant Hill. Make that a few seconds," Jackson told his friend, Charley Rosen, in an interview published Friday for Today's Fastbreak.
Bryant, of course, would develop into one of the top players of all time, winning five titles along the way. Hill, who is nearly six years older than Bryant, had shown, at that point, the promise to be one of the top players of his era. But debilitating injuries derailed his career. Had it gone through, the Bryant-Hill trade would have altered Jackson's legacy and the history of the NBA. But Jackson said the Lakers never seriously considered the offer.
"The thing was that Kobe already saw himself as being one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. I thought that, in time, he would indeed reach that goal.
"Anyway, he was not going to be traded," Jackson said in the Today's Fastbreak piece, in which he also mixed up the chronology of his run with the Lakers. "So we'd talk about being patient, and letting the game come to him. But Kobe would sometimes still go off on his own, disregarding the offense and trying to single-handedly take over the game. When I called him on this, he'd say that for us to keep on winning, there was a lot for him to do."
This was just one example of the not-always-rosy relationship between Bryant and Jackson. Jackson has detailed many of his run-ins with Kobe in his books, and he gives an overview of his relationship with the recently retired Lakers star in the Today's Fastbreak piece. Jackson and Bryant developed a mutual respect and admiration for one another as time passed.
"I’ll miss him, and the game will miss him," Jackson said.