Hours after LeBron James agreed to his four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant reached out. He told James “welcome,” according to comments made in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on The Jump.
“We’ve played together on several Olympic teams and All-Star games,” Bryant said in the interview, “and I’ve always talked about getting together and working out, but it never materialized.
“Now, he’s part of the family. So, whatever he needs, I’ve got him.”
Bryant, 39, played 20 seasons and won five NBA titles with the Lakers. Along with Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Bryant is considered as one of the greatest Lakers ever.
With the Lakers having missed the NBA playoffs in the last five years, Bryant knew they needed a superstar. And he knew James made for a perfect fit.
“I think he fully understands what this organization is about,” Bryant said, “and he’s not afraid of that challenge. There’s a lot of jerseys hanging in the rafters that you can bounce ideas off of.”
When Bryant found out the news, he said he laughed.
He then reached out to a number of folks. He sent Lakers owner Jeanie Buss a text message of “Game of Thrones” character Khaleesi. He spoke to his former agent and current Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.
“I had a good laugh with Rob, and I said, ‘Dude, you’re an absolute beast,’ ” Bryant said.
James is that, too, which is what made Bryant so happy. And as for the beast that will soon be the expectation of James?
“It’s nothing that he hasn’t dealt with since high school,” Bryant said. “For him, it’s just business as usual.”
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