Many Lakers fans and LeBron James supporters all remember the rivalry between Kobe Bryant and James starting in 2007. Bryant was considered the best player in the league then, having won three championships under his belt. Behind him was James, who was on a mission to dethrone Bryant and win titles as well.
Both legends have had their share of unforgettable battles throughout their careers. Bryant and James play 22 games against each other. Kobe has only won 6 times while the current Laker has won 16 times.
The battles between these two have often been showcased at NBA Christmas games, one of the biggest nights of the NBA regular season.
But if there’s one game that will always be remembered, it’s Bryant’s last game against James which was on March 10, 2016. Their last game was at Staples Center as the Cleveland Cavaliers (the James’ team) defeated the Lakers (120-108), marking James’ final triumph over Bryant for the last time.
LeBron finished the game with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks. Kobe dropped 26 points and added 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block.
While many thought there was animosity between Bryant and James, the two had a strong bond and respected each other’s greatness.
During Bryant’s last game in Cleveland, he gave James a pair of his Nikes who had his signature on the shoe. The two also bonded during the Olympics when they teamed up for Team USA twice in 2008 and 2012.
Their friendship wasn’t always great, but the respect was there at the end of the day because both players knew how good they were.
From lake to lake
The most ironic thing for Lakers fans is that they’ve gone from hating James (because he upstaged Bryant) to now rooting for him as the former Cleveland Cavalier finally decided to be the next king. of Laker. Along with leading the Lakers to a championship in 2020, James also promised Lakers Nation that he would carry Bryant’s legacy when Kobe tragically passed away in 2020.
True to his words, James continues to honor Bryant every year. It proves that perhaps James wasn’t meant to dethrone Bryant but rather continue his legacy in the Purple and Gold.