Kobe Bryant has been with the Los Angeles Lakers since the beginning of his career, and while he threatened to leave at certain points… one destination he was interested in may surprise you.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, the NBA legend revealed that in the early 2000s, he wanted to play for the Washington Wizards… for a chance to be mentored by Michael Jordan.
According to Yahoo Sports, when Jordan’s two-year contract to play for the Wizards expired at the end of the 2002-03 season, it was assumed that he’d return as the team’s President of Basketball Operations. Instead, then-owner Abe Pollin told the NBA G.O.A.T. that he would not be offered that post… so he left and never looked back.
Kobe says the Wizards lost out on their best chance at luring him away from the Lakers… with the prospect of working under Jordan.
“According to two people with knowledge of the situation, after Jordan decided to sell his minority ownership stake to resume his playing career with the Wizards, Bryant informed him several times he wanted to play for the Wizards — under the assumption that Jordan would return to the front office once his playing days were over,” writes the Post.
“That’s true,” Bryant confirmed with the paper. “A long time ago? Yeah.”
“I’ve always been very big on having mentors, on having muses and I’ve been really, really big on that,” he continued. “Being around guys who have done it before and done it at a high level and always tried to pick their brains and always tried to absorb knowledge. Obviously, being in that situation [with the Wizards], it would’ve helped having to be around him every day and so on.”
Instead, Kobe went on to re-sign with the Lakers in the summer of 2004 after Los Angeles trade Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. He chose to stay… because the Wizards no longer had Jordan in the picture.