Kobe Bryant has been on the minds of everyone involved in the NBA over the course of this past week. January 26th marked the 2nd anniversary of his tragic passing, with many players paying their respects to the Mamba since then. Bryant was one of basketball's greatest, his mentality and passion made him an icon and an inspiration to many, including the players he played with and against in the NBA. LeBron James is no exception to that, often paying his respects to Kobe even when they were competitors.
And that feeling was mutual, Kobe had great respect for LeBron, even before James moved to the Los Angeles Lakers. So much so, that the Mamba would defend the King online against those who tried to disrespect his legacy. In 2015, a fan claimed that LeBron's legacy wasn't solidified since he had never won a championship without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Kobe was quick to respond and shut down the criticism, pointing out that all the greats have always had help.
"LBJ doesn't need to prove that. I had Shaq + Pau Mj had Pip Magic had Worthy + Kareem etc AND we all had great teammates."
This critique was often aimed at LeBron James before he shut his doubters up in 2016 by leading his Cleveland Cavaliers side to an incredible comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. He had help from great teammates in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love but he was undisputedly the catalyst for that turnaround, leading his team in every statistical category as they came back from 3-1 down to bring the Cavaliers their first championship.
Kobe would continue to be one of LBJ's greatest supporters till his untimely passing, his final tweet before his tragic accident was congratulating LeBron for surpassing him on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Kobe was no stranger to media criticism, and he was one of basketball's greatest minds ever, so it's no surprise that he spoke out in support of his fellow greats from time to time. It was a fitting tribute that LeBron James managed to bring Los Angeles another title playing with just one other superstar the year Kobe passed, and it's a shame that the Mamba himself wasn't around to see it happen.