Josh Cohen’s Analysis: Let’s be real; if the Lakers didn’t trade Shaquille O’Neal in July of 2004 to the Heat, Kobe Bryant wouldn’t still be wearing purple and gold. He would have stayed in L.A. but would have sported red and blue with the Clippers.
Just one day after Shaq was dealt in a blockbuster deal, Kobe decided to re-sign with the Lakers for seven years, $136.4 million. As a result of all the turmoil and friction between Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers had to support one or the other.
It came down to preserving the aging O’Neal and accepting Bryant skipping to their archrivals or surrendering the diesel and appeasing a superstar in his prime.