The Los Angeles Lakers have used the power and allure of the City of Angels to their benefit in many situations, whether signing free agents or cementing their brand all across the world. However, some events in franchise history have pitted their status atop the NBA against them as a hindrance.
In one of the more illustrious events in NBA history, a series of three hours turned into a crazy whirlwind of news across social media. On Dec. 14, 2011, the New Orleans Hornets finalized a trade that sent Chris Paul to the Lakers, with Pau Gasol going to the Houston Rockets, and Lamar Odom, Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Gordan Dragic and a draft pick heading to New Orleans.
The Hornets pulled the trigger on the trade understanding that Paul wouldn’t be returning to the franchise following the end of the final season of his contract. With news of the trade breaking, social media blew up expressing appreciation or disgust over the trade that would have partnered up Paul with Kobe Bryant.
Eventually, former NBA commissioner David Stern felt that he had to use his authority and rethink the decision of a franchise that was owned by the league at the time. Less than an hour after it was announced, reports surfaced that Stern had vetoed the trade and sent Paul back to the Hornets.
The Lakers front office and fans across the world were sent into a spiral of emotions at the thought of the NBA interfering with a potential third championship run for Bryant. Along with Phil Jackson, the front office had visions of Paul and Bryant dominating alongside center Dwight Howard.
Years after the trade was nixed, Stern stated that it was his duty as an owner representative to shut down the trade. While those around the NBA understood he did use his veto power, Stern chose to describe it as a situation where the trade had not gone through yet.
The falling out from many different parties turned the situation into a fiasco, as Odom and Paul publicly expressed their dismay of the entire situation. At the same time, Gasol was traded from the organization he had won two titles with in just four seasons.
The very next day, Paul was promptly traded to the L.A. Clippers, where he would spend a number of seasons escaping the thoughts of a what-if scenario alongside an NBA legend and ideal partner in pick-and-roll scenarios.
The drama following the situation led to Paul receiving constant boos at Staples Center during clashes with the Lakers, while Laker faithful also continued their disdain of how the NBA handled the situation.
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