James vowed to take on an even bigger leadership role for the grieving organization.
Kobe had very recently been in touch with LeBron, congratulating him for becoming the NBA’s all-time third leading scorer hours before he perished along with eight others in a helicopter crash.
Per The Athletic:
For more than 10 minutes, Lakers players, staff members and executives, including owner Jeanie Buss, sat rapt as James shared stories from his battles with Bryant as opponents and their time as teammates in a pair of Olympics. The group was gathered in an event suite overlooking the team’s practice court, directly across the gym from where the Lakers championship trophies could be seen in Buss’ office window.
“God gave me wide shoulders for a reason,” James said, according to multiple people who were present.
The lunch served as the first formal team gathering since the Lakers learned of Bryant’s death while they were on a flight home from Philadelphia. The Lakers legend was on a helicopter that crashed in a hillside in Calabasas, killing all nine people aboard, including Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
The Lakers will slowly get back to the business of basketball. And in time, that may start to feel like the most significant thing again. At least sometimes.
“It’s never going to feel normal,” one Lakers official said. “It won’t.”