Former NBA Commissioner David Stern is credited with the exponential growth of the league under his watch. Stern was not immune to controversy, however, and faced considerable criticism throughout his tenure.
One of those times came after he vetoed the 2011 trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. As we reflect on Stern's decision, the potential league-wide impacts of the trade can only be imagined.
At the conclusion of the NBA lockout that year, Paul was coming into a contract year and looking for a new team to play for. His status as one of the league's premier point guards would have given the Lakers an exciting backcourt duo in CP3 and Kobe Bryant and a real chance at competing for another NBA championship. Of course, that did not happen. Bryant never won another playoff series after that year and Paul ended up in the Staples Center, just with a different jersey on.
In the proposed deal that was rejected by the commissioner, the Lakers would've gotten Paul, the Hornets would've acquired Goran Dragic, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and a first-round pick, and the third team in the deal, the Houston Rockets, were set to receive Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. What did Stern do instead? He approved the Hornets' trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, which was Paul and two second-round picks for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Faroq Aminu and a first-round pick.
Is that a joke?
Reports suggested Stern vetoed the trade due to the outrage among the league's owners, who viewed it as too advantageous of a deal for the Lakers. At the time, the Hornets were owned by the NBA after the league purchased the team from George Shinn, so such input was likely taken more heavily into consideration.
But if this trade went through, perhaps Paul would've helped revitalize the Lakers' championship days and ended Kobe's career on a much different note. Maybe the Hornets would've gotten a better trade package and then wouldn't have had the opportunity to select Anthony Davis No. 1 overall in 2012.
As for the other side of the deal, we would have never seen the "Lob City" Clippers led by Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Doc Rivers would not have become the head coach. The Clips might not even have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George right now if CP3 didn't help revitalize the franchise and make them a contender again.
There are probably more scenarios we aren't thinking about, but oh boy, what could have been.