Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James shared a message showing support for women's sports on his Instagram Story late Friday. James shared a fiery tweet from NBA Hall of Famer Alex English, who called anyone who considers themselves a Kobe Bryant fan while also bashing women's sports is a "fraud." Bryant was a major supporter of women's sports, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant hoped to play in the WNBA before her death.
"Y'all dudes wanna be so mamba mentality & move like Kobe but y'all quick to bash women's basketball or talk down on them," a basketball fan wrote on Twitter Friday. "Kobe loved women's basketball equally or probably even more than men's basketball. So how y'all trying to be like him but not supporting what he truly loves."
English, who sits on the WNBA's Board of Advocates, spotted the tweet and had his own words to add.
"I want to be very clear," English wrote. "You are not a true fan of Kobe 'Bean' Bryant if you are bashing Women's Sports and not supporting. You can 'mamba this' and 'Kobe that' but if you are disrespecting something he truly loved and advocated for, consider yourself a fraud."
Donnie Raimon, the husband of two-time WNBA champion Kelly Schumacher, shared English's tweet on Instagram, where he tagged other NBA stars James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul who also show support for the WNBA.
"If you love basketball, you love basketball," Raimon added.
James agreed with that sentiment, sharing Raimon's post and adding "FACTS!!!" and the "100" emoji.
Bryant supported women's sports during his life. He died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 with Gianna, on their way to a girls' basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy. Gianna wore the number 2 when she played and hoped to play for the University of Connecticut women's basketball team and the WNBA. Gianna's teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Cheter also died in the crash.
During the Celebration of Life memorial on Monday, UConn coach Geno Auriemma shared stories about meeting Gianna and Bryant. When they visited UConn together, Bryant stayed out of the picture so Gianna could have a moment with the players herself.
"The look on her face, the smile, the way her eyes just took everything in," Auriemma said of Gianna. "How excited she was to be around – in her mind – royalty. It's ironic. Her father's royalty and she's excited to be around royalty that looks just like what she wants to be."
Earlier this month, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Gianna, Alyssa and Peyton were the "future of our game."
"We're devastated over that loss and Kobe was a huge advocate for the WNBA," Engelbert told PEOPLE. "I've been telling people that he's the only NBA player that reached out and came to see me at the WNBA offices since I started as the commissioner six months ago. The first thing he said to me was, 'Cathy, I spent four hours every day on girls sports and I love it.'"
"We talked for two hours about his commitment to the WNBA, the women, the players and obviously his commitment to his team that he was coaching," Engelbert added. "[It's] just really a loss and a loss of a big advocate."
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