During and even after Kobe Bryant‘s 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, some media/fans made names for themselves by disrespecting him.
These matchups were competitive, but there was nothing but respect between Bryant and his peers — even before this devastating tragedy.
On Inside the NBA’s one-hour special remembering Bryant, Wade revealed the conversation he and James had about this very topic, according to TNT:
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 29, 2020
Leading up to James passing Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, there was ‘nothing but love and respect’ between the two players. And when James accomplished the feat, he and Bryant spoke on the phone.
It is devastating to know it was their last phone call, but James has promised to continue Bryant’s legacy. He is also determined to win the 2020 NBA Finals, which would mark the team’s 17th and first since Bryant’s 2009-10 team.
Through all of the tears, there are stories like this that make Bryant/Lakers fans smile. For players like Wade and James who came after Bryant, they looked up to him and just wanted to earn his respect by competing.
They both accomplished that and it is up to them to carry on Bryant’s legacy to the next generation and continue to grow the game of basketball.