While they never met in the playoffs or NBA Finals, like other storied rivalries, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were — and often still are — pitted as each other’s top adversary.
Aside from entertaining regular-season games and spurts in All-Star Games, Bryant and James never took the court against one another with much on the line. They appeared to be on a collision course in 2009, but the Orlando Magic upset the Cleveland Cavaliers to reach the Finals.
Nonetheless, Bryant and James remain forever intertwined. And now that James has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, comparisons aren’t likely to end anytime soon.
While the two superstars have gone out of their way to dismiss the notion of any rivalry or animosity existing, James did raise some eyebrows during his speech at the Harlem’s Fashion Row Style Awards.
An honoree that evening, James quoted a lyric from a Drake song that alluded to Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, not being by his side in the gym and therefore not deserving of half his earnings in a potential divorce settlement.
James explained to Marisa Guthrie of The Hollywood Reporter that his referencing the song was not at all a slight of the Bryants:
“I do know that when [Drake] said it, it was about Kobe Bryant, but Kobe Bryant wasn’t even in my thoughts. [Savannah] was down when I was at my high school, no cameras, no lights. And she was there with me. You wouldn’t be talking to me right now if it weren’t for her. But I got way too much respect not only for Kobe but for Vanessa [to insult them]. That’s so below me. That would have been like a Donald Trump remark.”
While both fierce competitors, Bryant and James have regularly praised one another. Bryant recently took to social media and asked that a debate over which player is better come to an end, and that instead both be celebrated for their greatness.