The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to host Kobe Bryant tonight for the last time in his 20-year career, as the Los Angeles Lakers pay them a visit, and LeBron James says watching Kobe’s final season has been an emotional roller coaster.
James, speaking to reporters following the Cavs’ win Monday night, hopes the fans in Cleveland give The Black Mamba a proper send-off.
The relationship between these two future Hall of Famers has grown considerably over the years.
Per the NEOMG:
For most of James’ pro career — which dates back to 2003 — Bryant was openly cold to him on the court. And on Monday night, after James again spoke so warmly of Bryant, he was asked why their relationship went from cold war to Kumbaya. […] “I don’t want to answer that. I don’t want to answer that,” James said, suggesting the question should be asked of Bryant.
When Bryant said he’d retire at the end of the season, setting a date for the end of a storied, surefire, hall-of-fame career, James went on and on about what Bryant meant to him as a young player. […] Touching stories of James wearing a “nappy-ass Afro” hairstyle like Bryant, hanging Bryant posters on his wall, and the time Bryant gave James a pair of shoes before a high-school tournament against Carmelo Anthony.
“Anytime I even watch his games, even when I’m not playing him, it’s always like very emotional just knowing it’s his last hurrah,” James said. “And he’s done so much not only for the Lakers organization but for me as a kid growing up watching Kobe and things of that nature and also competing against him. […] So, it’s going to be really cool to see him on Wednesday for sure and hopefully, I know our fans, they’re going to give him a great reception – well deserved.”