Thinking of Kobe Bryant wearing another jersey that isn’t purple and gold feels blasphemous. The legendary shooting guard spent his entire NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming one of the greatest players in franchise history.
Coming straight out of high school, Kobe had to earn his spot on the team, and after a couple of setbacks early in his career, he became one of the best players in the league, leading the Lakers to three consecutive titles alongside Shaquille O’Neal at the turn of the millennium. Kobe would win two more championships in Southern California, ending his career with five rings.
His last days as a player were anything but sweet. The Lakers endured a rebuilding process during the last seasons Bryant spent there, with the guard working as a mentor for the younger guys. Kobe was close to leaving Los Angeles several times during his career. The Lakers reportedly had a deal done to swap Bryant and LeBron James.
He almost gets swapped by Dirk Nowitzki, too, and one time, he believed he was headed to Chicago, which never happened.
Ultimately, he spent his entire 20-year tenure with the Lakers, but an insider recently revealed Kobe could have different plans to end his career. Being a Philadelphia native, Bryant always showed a desire to return home and play for the 76ers. Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed in November that Kobe thought of finishing his career in Philly.
“The Lakers lost to the Sixers that night in Philly. And I asked Kobe after that game if he had given any thoughts of finishing his career with his hometown team,” Mike said during the “I Am Kobe” podcast.
“He told me ‘It would be nice to play here. In high school, it’s all I thought about.’”
That would have been interesting to watch. Still, Kobe would go from a struggling team to another in similar conditions. Those Sixers were going through the process at the time Kobe left the game. He was close to playing with them, too, as the team almost drafted him to create a terrific duo with Allen Iverson.
Even though Kobe never wore the Sixers jersey, the team could retire his high school number, 33, in a big display of respect for a Philadelphia hero. We’ll never know how good the Sixers would have been with Kobe, but that was definitely an interesting idea.