Yes, I Said It: Trade Kobe for Iverson
Back during the most heated moments of the Shaq vs. Kobe war that (probably) lead to the dismantling of the championship Lakers, I had an equally combative debate with a co-worker about which of the two players should get the heave-ho. My co-worker, a lifelong Lakers fan, said there was no way Kobe, the best player in the NBA and in the prime of his youth, should be traded instead of the frequently overweight Shaq. Shaq was divisive, he said, and didn’t give enough effort on the court during the regular season.
After reminding my co-worker that the same “lack of intensity” criticism was levelled against perennial Laker champ Kareem Abdul Jabbar, I explained my reason for preferring to keep Shaq and ditch Kobe, and it had nothing to do with the Kobester’s stand offishness. My argument was simple: shooting guard is the deepest position in the NBA, while center is the thinnest, so you could pair Shaq with more than half-dozen able guards in the league and still contend for an NBA title. Anyone from Ray Allen to Tracy McGrady paired with Shaq was a contender, I reasoned. But my personal preference would be for sparkplug Allen Iverson, the diminutive scoring machine who seems to elicit more passion (both good or bad) among fans than any other player in the NBA.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Shaq has another title, gained alongside yet another stellar shooting guard, and Kobe has demanded a trade. Die-hard fans once again say trading Kobe would be the greatest mistake the team could make, even though it’s pretty evident that Kobe will leave on his own once he becomes a free agent in another year. And once again, I say trade him for Iverson. Here are my reasons: