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Charles Barkley: "I Got Traded to the Lakers [in 1992]"

Somewhere in an alternate universe, the pantheon of great Lakers big men includes Sir Charles.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 1992-93 Lakers were a mediocre bunch, a veteran laden squad that rode the talents of Sedale Threatt, James Worthy, and even current Lakers head coach Byron Scott to a 39-43 record and 8th seed in the Western Conference under head coach Randy Pfund. Ultimately, that year's iteration of the Lakers fell to Charles Barkley and his 1st seeded Phoenix Suns 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs.

But how different could that season have been if Barkley was playing for the Lakers? According to Barkley, that is almost exactly how things played out (Per Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch):

Was there any other team than Phoenix that was close to getting you?

I got traded to the Lakers one day [in 1992] and they retracted the deal.

No way.

Yeah. The Sixers backed out. It was going crazy for two weeks so I knew it would come down to Portland, [the] Lakers or Phoenix. So I get a call from my agent one morning and he said, "Philly has traded you to the Lakers." So I went to lunch and started drinking. I'm f---ing so excited that I am going to the Lakers. Three hours later I get a f---ing phone call from my agent saying that the Sixers backed out of the deal. I said, "Oh, s--t, I'm feeling pretty good right now." So I went out and played that night.

It is unknown what the Lakers would have given up in such a transaction, but it is certainly interesting to imagine Barkley, who averaged 25.6 points and 12.2 rebounds en route to the MVP award that season, wearing purple and gold. Alas, the Lakers would have to wait 4 long years after their failed pursuit of Barkley to return to relevance, when they signed Barkley's now fellow TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal and drafted some kid named Kobe Bryant right out of high school. Something tells me most Lakers fans would not want to change how things turned out.