Seattle SuperSonics legend Shawn Kemp is one of the most iconic players of his generation. He never won an NBA Championship, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He was simply one of many legends who ran into the brick wall known as Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
This week, Kemp sat down on the Players’ Tribune’s Knuckleheads Podcast with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson to discuss a myriad of topics. One especially interesting one was his revelation that he almost became a Los Angles Laker.
“Magic hooked me up with some agents,” he said. “I left Trinity Valley [Community College] and moved to LA. The Lakers were hiding me out in LA for months. But that year the Lakers won the Championship. So I was thinking… They might try to send me overseas.
“It was four days before the draft and I started going out and visiting teams. I only visited four or five teams. Seattle was the first team that I visited,” he continued.
“I was indulged to go to Seattle and play for them simply because they had a Black coach and I thought he could help me out and relate to me in more ways than one.”
Kemp also opened up about why he eventually left the Sonics.
“In the NBA, the contracts weren’t that great. In my mind, I wanted to break a 100 Million. Nobody had a 100 Million dollar contract yet. It wasn’t about SK making a 100 Million. It was about breaking a barrier because I thought we should be making more money,” he said.
“In my heart I kind of knew I was going to have to leave because they [Seattle] weren’t going to pay me 100 Million dollars. I had six years left on my contract. I was the first athlete ever who got 100 Million dollars and still had six or seven years on my contract.”
Kemp may not be spoken of in the same breath as someone like Charles Barkley, who was similarly unable to win a championship against Jordan, but his impact on the NBA speaks for itself.