The relationship between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James was never the best while both players were active in the NBA. It was cordial, but there was always a bit of tension as many believed that LeBron was the “best player in the league” as far back as 2008 – when Kobe was at the peak of his powers. Kobe can be prickly like that.
Kobe put on a nice face when LeBron signed with the Lakers last week, tweeting: “Welcome to the family @KingJames #lakers4life #striveforgreatness @JeanieBuss @Magic Johnson and RP well done!!!” LeBron even called Kobe before officially signing with the Lakers.
That said, everything about this new era with the Lakers will move Kobe’s legacy farther and farther away from the NBA public’s consciousness. That, of course, will not sit well with the Black Mamba.
During the height of the Kobe Lakers, Magic Johnson was rarely visible – and now that Magic is in charge of the franchise and has secured LeBron in purple and gold one can expect for Magic to get a little payback. Magic and Kobe have – for years – had a rivalry going as to “Who is the best Laker of all-time?” Recently, now that both players have let their playing swords down, Magic has said that Kobe is the best and Kobe has said that Magic is the best. Of course with both of them being two of the most competitive men in sports history we know that this is all for show and that neither of them truly believes that.
It wasn’t too long ago that Magic said of Kobe, “I love Kobe, but he’s not Michael [Jordan],” calling it an “easy” decision.
LeBron himself was asked who the greatest three players in NBA history were back in 2013 and said, “Michael Jordan, Dr. J, and Larry Bird.” Then there was Jordan, who said that Kobe was better than LeBron just last year.
Will a Kobe LeBron NBA war ruin the Lakers
The Lakers are one of the unique franchises in all of sports as people legitimately care about what the exterior of the Staples Center looks like. Right now a statue of Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chick Hearn and Shaquille O’Neal grace the landscape. Obviously Kobe’s up next – but the timing of this will be interesting to say the least.
“Our tradition is to retire a jersey when a player is entered into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss told ESPN Radio’s Mason and Ireland. “Now, to be considered for the Hall of Fame, you have to be retired for five years. Obviously, we didn’t stick with that rule because when Magic Johnson retired we immediately retired his jersey. Shaq asked to have his jersey retired while my dad was still alive because he wanted my dad to know he wanted to retire as a Laker. So we made an exception there. We obviously made an exception for Kobe two years after he retired because we know he’s going into the Hall of Fame. So what we did with Shaq, when he went into the Basketball Hall of Fame that’s when we unveiled his statue. So I guess we can assume that at some point Kobe will be considered for the Basketball Hall of Fame, and we’ll figure it out.”
Kobe will be eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.