Remember When The Lakers Tried To Trade Up In The 96 Draft For Stephon Marbury (Not Kobe Bryant)?

Is Stephon Marbury a Hall of Famer? The former NBA player who is attempting a comeback at the age of 40 thinks so.

“My numbers are Hall of Fame. That’s it, Marbury told SI Now. “My mark on basketball globally is beyond – it’s never been done before.”

What he’s done since leaving the NBA in 2009 is win three championships in China and become such an international star, a film was made about his life. What he did before his adventures in China was become a two-time All-Star after being part of the young one-two punch in Minnesota with Kevin Garnett.

What many don’t know about him is how his career could have started in another city and drastically changed the NBA we know. In the weeks leading up to the 1996 draft, Lakers VP Jerry West was trying to trade up to get the Milwaukee Bucks’ 4th pick. He didn’t want it to draft Kobe Bryant, he wanted it so he could land the point God from Georgia Tech, Stephon Marbury, who would then help the Lakers land the Orlando Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal. The reported offer to the Bucks was Vlade Divac, Anthony Peeler and the Lakers No. 24 pick.

Thankfully for LA Nation, the Bucks trade didn’t happen, the Timberwolves got cold feet about drafting a prep player for the second year in a row and Nets coach John Calipari was “talked out of” taking that prep player with the 8th pick. This resulted in the Bucks drafting Marbury, trading him to the Wolves for Ray Allen and Jerry West trading Vlade Divac to the Hornets for Kobe Bryant without having to trade the pick that turned out to be point guard Derek Fisher.

After trading Divac and dumping Anthony Peeler and George Lynch on the Grizzlies — a team that actually tried to trade up in the same draft for the #1 pick so they would be guaranteed Shareef Abdur-Rahim — the Lakers had enough cap room to sign Shaq and create what would become arguably the greatest one-two punch in NBA history. Unfortunately, egos and immaturity broke them up and created one of the biggest “what if” scenarios in NBA history.

Over in Minnesota, Marbury went through something similar with Kevin Garnett. Together, the duo had the potential to be the hip-hop version of Stockton and Malone or a better offensive version of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Egos and immaturity also broke them up and created more “what ifs.”

Since the Hall doesn’t accept hypothetical situations, based on Marbury’s current stats and facts, I’m going to say he’s a real long shot at joining fellow draft class members like Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant as current and future Hall of Famers. But, unlike those mentioned names, Starbury’s basketball journey isn’t done and if there’s one thing this young and immature league needs, it’s a veteran with a basketball career worth praising.