If there was anyone who knew what it meant to be a Laker, it was Kobe Bean Bryant. Having spent two decades playing there, many still consider him the greatest player in that franchise's glorious history.
So when LeBron James joined the squad back in 2018, he had planned a meeting with Bryant to talk about his transition to the team. Unfortunately, it never panned through and James was unable to get that meeting before Bryant's tragic death in January of this year.
Now on the cusp of his first Finals appearance with the Lakers, Bron talked about the missed opportunity and how not getting together with Kobe is still one of his great regrets.
“Of course, you think there’s going to be time for us to get together and I understand that there are regrets in life, but I definitely wish I had that moment with him,” James told Yahoo Sports. “I do remember when I decided to come here, he sent me a text right away and said, ‘Welcome, brother. Welcome to the family.’ That was a special moment because at the time, Laker faithful wasn’t [fully in on me]. A lot of people were saying, ‘Well, we might not want LeBron at this point in his career,’ and, ‘Is he right? Is he going to get us back [to the Finals]?’ So to hear from him and get his stamp of approval, it meant a lot. I don’t ever question myself, but when it’s coming from Kobe, it definitely meant a lot.
When I played in Cleveland, I grew up 35 minutes away from there, and so I kind of knew the people. When I went down to Miami, [Dwyane Wade] was able to give me the blueprint on that. But I never played for a historic franchise like the Lakers,” James told Yahoo Sports. “It’s probably like when [Alex Rodriguez] went to the Yankees. He probably heard from [Derek] Jeter on what it’s going to take to play in front of this. It’s different from playing with the Mariners. It’s different from the Rangers. I would have definitely loved to get that side of what it takes, what does it take to win over Laker faithful or how can I make them appreciate my game. … That would have been something to pick his brain on."
To this day, there are Lakers fans who refuse to embrace James' arrival. For one reason or another, many are still not quite sold on the idea of James donning the Purple and Gold.
While there will always be haters, Kobe could've helped LeBron handle the pressures of being in a market like L.A, and he could have offered advice on how to gain favor with the fans.
Winning seems to be a major part of the puzzle, and the Lakers are only 4 wins away from bringing home their first title of the decade. No doubt, if LeBron does lead his team to that end, Mr. Bryant will be on his mind, as well as on the minds of each and every fan in Los Angeles.