In 2007, the
Bryant had demanded a trade before the 2007-2008 season, frustrated that the Lakers had stagnated and believing that the team was not properly prioritizing wining.
After winning three titles from 2000-2002, the team fell in the 2004 NBA Finals to the
The Lakers missed the 2005 playoffs, then suffered two first-round knock-outs by the
Soon after, Bryant publicly asked for a trade.
The Lakers tried to accommodate, searching the league for a suitable destination. One of the calls reportedly was to the Cavaliers.
James was already a three-time All-Star in just his fourth season in Cleveland. Three years later he would move on as a free agent to the Miami Heat, where he would win two
In 2014, James left the Heat as a free agent to return home to Cleveland and the Cavaliers.
Had the Lakers and Cavaliers agreed to a deal, Bryant would have needed to waive his no-trade clause to allow the blockbuster transaction.
"I never would've approved it. Never," Bryant told ESPN. "That wasn't one of the teams that was on my list. It was Chicago, San Antonio, Phoenix."
Eventually the Lakers decided not to deal Bryant, instead swapping
Bryant and Gasol went on to lead the Lakers to two additional titles.