With LeBron James, arguably the greatest NBA player of all-time, heading to the Los Angeles Lakers – the former team of Kobe Bryant, who at times has also been in that conversation – the natural question arises: will James quickly usurp Bryant’s legacy as the greatest Laker of all-time?
It’s inevitable that this conversion will prevail throughout James’ time with the team. Bryant will probably get into the nitty gritty of James threatening his title at some point down the line, but for now, he had just three words: “I LOVE IT.”
Kobe Bryant will have a lot to say about LeBron in due time. For now, he says in all caps, “I LOVE IT.”
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 2, 2018
Bryant later took to Twitter to welcome LeBron to the Laker family.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 2, 2018
Amicable relationship could turn threatening to Kobe’s legacy
The relationship between the two players has been nothing but amicable thus far, and Kobe even said recently that if he could pick anyone to play with, it would be LeBron.
In early June, however, Kobe told Bleacher Report that LeBron has to “just figure out” a way to win, and not focus his career narrative on who is playing around him:
“All I thought about as a kid personally was winning championships. That’s all I cared about. That’s how I valued Michael. That’s how I valued [Larry] Bird. That’s how I valued Magic [Johnson]. It was just winning championships. Now, everybody’s going to value things differently, which is fine. I’m just telling you how I value mine.
If I’m Bron, you got to figure out a way to win. It’s not about narrative. You want to win championships, you just gotta figure it out.”
In other words, Kobe thinks that rings with determine LeBron’s legacy. LeBron is 3-6 in the NBA Finals, while Kobe went 5-2; the pair never played each other that far into the playoffs.
But in terms of person accolades, LeBron does have the edge. In five fewer seasons in the NBA, LeBron has four season MVPs to Kobe’s one; three Finals MVPs to Kobe’s two; and has averaged better performance in a number of key categories, including field goal percentage and points per game, compared to Kobe.
This is only the start of a debate that will surely only grow stronger, despite Kobe’s request to stop comparing top players, for years to come.
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