Jerry West claims that the best decision the Los Angeles Lakers ever made was to trade for Kobe Bryant on Draft night in 1996.
The Los Angeles Lakers were an iconic and storied franchise well before Kobe Bryant’s arrival in La La Land in 1996. Putting on the purple and gold in the 1990s meant living up to past Laker legends such as George Mikan, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and everything they did for the city of Los Angeles in terms of championships.
Kobe Bryant seemed to have been following in Kevin Garnett’s footsteps as a year after the Timberwolves drafted Garnett out of high school, the Hornets did the same the following with a 17-year-old kid out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia.
However, on the same day that the Hornets drafted Bryant, Jerry West struck up a deal with then-New Orleans to trade an established star in Vlade Divac for the 13th overall draft pick that year. Little would they know, this deal would change the course of NBA history moving forward.
Jerry West believes the best move the Lakers ever made was to bring Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles.
Bringing Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles seemed quite fitting considering the fact that the now 5x champ was as charismatic as the stars over at Hollywood. Looking back at the trade, Jerry West firmly believes that was the best decision the Lakers have made since the inception of the franchise.
“To me, that was the best deal we ever made. I’ve always looked back at deals sometimes when you’re always pushing a deal. Sometimes the best you can make are the ones you do not make.”
The Lakers have made a bevy of incredible decisions over the decades. Whether it was drafting Magic Johnson or trading for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, championships seemed to follow. However, for Jerry West to confidently say that the Lakers’ greatest decision in franchise history was to acquire Kobe Bryant; it speaks volumes for what he did for the city of Los Angeles.