Back in the summer of ’05 myself and a few friends decided to roll down to Long Beach so we could get our first look at the Lakers’ top pick in the draft, a young man named Andrew Bynum. We were all curious to know what Mitch Kupchak saw in the teenage 7-footer from New Jersey. As amazed as we were to see how advanced the young man’s post game and footwork were there was something even more shocking we saw during the summer league contest.
During the game Kevin Garnett wandered into the Pyramid. Soon he followed Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti into one of the locker rooms. I remember leaning over and nudging one of my boys as if we were the only ones in the entire arena that noticed what was going on.
Within minutes wild speculation crept through the crowd. We all began to ponder the possibility of the Lake Show acquiring KG. Suddenly the focused shifted from the future big man on the court to the big man of now off it.
While nothing ever came of all that rampant speculation a seed was certainly planted.
Come to find out, two years later Garnett could have been a Laker. All he had to do was say ‘yes’.
On Dan Patrick’s show Garnett revealed how close he was to accepting a trade to Los Angeles amid Kobe’s desire to be traded. However KG cited the Lake Show drama as the ultimate reason he turned down the chance to wear Purple and Gold.
“I was pretty close [to going to L.A.] to be honest. What disturbed me about the whole Laker situation was Kobe [Bryant] and Phil [Jackson] at the time. They was pretty bad. That situation was something I didn’t want to get into. It was my choice. There was a lot going on and I didn’t want to be a part of it.”
We all know what eventually happened. Instead of Garnett, Kupchak worked his magic to acquire Pau Gasol. Three trips to the Finals and two titles later, everything went according to plan.
Still, you can’t help but wonder what the Garnett/Bryant combo might have been.
Widely known as an NBA recluse, Kobe considered Garnett among his most trusted companions in the world’s most competitive hoops league. The two shared a special bond as they were among the youngest players in the league early in their careers.
Aside from his kinship with Kobe, Garnett would have brought that trademark toughness and deadly offensive arsenal to a hungry squad.
Of course he also would have brought all his nagging injuries.
Ever since that summer day when me and my boys got a teasing taste of Garnett possibly becoming a Laker I’ve always wondered what could have been. Despite the cold-hearted nature in which Garnett got his first ring a small part of me was happy. That happiness was made into ecstatic joy when the Lakers avenged their disgusting loss in a dramatic 7-game series against the C’s.
Sometimes the best moves are the ones that are never made. In this instance it was a moved that was denied. Either way I couldn’t be happier to be rooting for Gasol. This is one of those rare instances in which we actually know the grass would not have been greener.