30 NBA players who were traded before becoming stars

Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady
Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages
25 of 30

6. Kobe Bryant

NBA icon Kobe Bryant was famously drafted by the Charlotte Hornets but traded to the Lakers in a deal for Vlade Divac. That coincided with the Lakers signing superstar Shaquille O'Neal the same summer and the pairing quickly became one of the most dominant duos in NBA history. 

They won three straight championships and made a fourth NBA Final before losing to the Pistons. That stunning loss led to Shaq being traded and several down seasons for the Lakers. On the other hand, Kobe won consecutive scoring titles during that span including dropping 81 points, the second-most ever. 

Fortunately, Kobe and the Lakers were able to acquire all-star Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies and the duo went to three straight NBA Finals and won two consecutive championships. Kobe would retire in 2016 after 20 seasons with the Lakers, and he is considered to be one of the best players in their storied franchise's history.

That wouldn't have been the case had the Hornets decided to hold onto Kobe, with Los Angeles likely having five fewer championship banners hanging from the rafters at the Crypto.com arena.