For the past nine years, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has been arguably the best player in the world. He also has his name mentioned as one of the all-time greatest the game of basketball has ever seen. The King is currently 10th all-time in assists (8,940) and fourth all-time in points (33,217), according to ESPN. He is the only player in NBA history to be ranked in the top-10 of both categories.
However, James is also a fan of the game, and on the latest episode of HBO’s ‘The Shop,’ he shared a story about receiving shoes from former Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant back in high school.
“My junior year in high school, the All-Star game was in Philadelphia [February 10, 2002]. I went to the hotel before All-Star Saturday, and Kobe gave me a pair of shoes. That was one of the craziest things for me as a high school junior,” said James.
What James didn’t mention is the future Hall of Famer actually gifted him those sneakers after an MVP performance in that All-Star game. Bryant scored 31 points, dished five assists, and grabbed five rebounds, but was booed by his hometown crowd, a group that was pro-Philadelphia 76ers star Allen Iverson.
Kobe Bryant on LeBron James
Last November, Kobe Bryant was on SportsCenter with Neil Everett to promote his book ‘The Mamba Mentality.’ The two would discuss a variety of different topics, such as his relationship with Shaquille O’Neal and facing tough matchups against Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and Kevin Durant. They also talked about LeBron joining the Lakers in 2018.
“When he first came on board, I said listen, is there anything that you need? You’re family now, you are a part of this tradition. So, if there is anything that you need, just let me know,” said Bryant.
In Kobe’s book ‘The Mamba Mentality,’ he wrote that the main thing they discussed is what constitutes a killer mentality. He was asked what his message to James was.
“The message is always to go out there and dominate; there is no let-up. Once the game starts and once the practice begins, you are in that mode, and everything is a game seven. When you approach every practice and every game with that it bleeds into the rest of the guys and that next unit has that same approach and that same intensity, but it starts at the top,” Bryant said.
LeBron James on Kobe Bryant Sitting Courtside at the Staples Center
On November 18, 2019, the Lakers were at home against the Atlanta Hawks, and Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria “Gigi” Bryant were sitting courtside to watch the game. The Lakers would put on a show as the former Laker great took in the festivities. During James’ postgame interview, he was asked what it’s like playing in front of Kobe.
“I know he came to a game last year,” James said. “Just having him in the building, knowing what he did to this franchise, and for my teammates and me what it means to be a part of Laker Nation, the Laker family, it’s a beautiful thing. I was one of the kids who had the chance to come out straight out of high school. He did it, and I was just watching him. It’s just so surreal for me, a kid from Akron, to be able to have a guy like Kobe take time out of his day. Even at this point in my career, it’s still special.”
The Lakers are currently in first place in the Western Conference with a 24-4 record, and James is averaging 25.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 10.6 assists per game through 28 games.