LeBron James spoke with Kobe Bryant on the phone one last time on the eve of his death, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. James had just passed Bryant on the NBA all-time scoring list. The two shared a conversation after James topped Bryant on the list as his Lakers teammates listened in to what would be their final conversation hours before the crash as Charania detailed.
“One final conversation: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had phone call late Saturday night after James passed Bryant on the NBA scoring charts, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Several Lakers players listened into call — in what would be their final memory of Bryant’s voice,” Charania tweeted.
Kobe’s Final Social Media Posts Congratulated LeBron
Their relationship evolved throughout their careers as James grew up idolizing Bryant prior to following in his footsteps by jumping from high school to the NBA. After he passed Bryant, James recalled a story of receiving a pair of shoes from The Black Mamba that were a size too small. James admitted to squeezing into the shoes indicating just how much he looked up to Bryant.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst detailed the evolution of their relationship during the latest episode of The Hoops Collective podcast. Windhorst explained that James and Bryant transitioned from rivals to friends during the final years of Bryant’s life. It is fitting that Bryant’s last social media posts was tipping his hat to James for passing him on the scoring list.
“On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next. ??,” Bryant posted on Instagram along with a photo of them during a Lakers game.
Bryant also made a separate post tagging James on Twitter which would be his final tweet before the helicopter crash.
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother ?? #33644,” Bryant noted on Twitter.
LeBron Paid Tribute to Kobe on the Eve of His Death
James paid tribute to Bryant on the eve of his passing not knowing the tragedy that was ahead. James’ shoes paid homage to Bryant and the Lakers star emphasized how fitting it was to pass him in his hometown of Philadelphia.
“It’s just too much,” James noted after passing Bryant on the scoring list, per ESPN. “It’s too much. The story is too much. It doesn’t make sense. Just to make a long story short, now I’m here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he’s from. The first time I ever met him, gave me his shoes on All-Star Weekend. It’s surreal. It doesn’t make no sense, but the universe just puts things in your life. And I guess when you live in the right way, when you just give it everything to whatever you’re doing, things happen organically.”
James could not stop talking about how significant it was to pass Bryant. The Lakers star went on to praise Bryant’s legendary status in what would be the evening before his death.
“And it’s not supposed to make sense, but it just happens,” James continued, per ESPN. “And I’m happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers. The man has two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It’s just crazy.”