The NBA 2019-20 season is set to resume on Thursday, and LeBron James is ready to win another title. But before he takes part in the NBA Restart, he had pay tribute to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash back in January. On Instagram, James posted a photo of him wearing a finger sleeve that had Bryant's No. 24 stitched.
"Stucc in the Grind! The Marathon Continues tonight and forever. Let’s Get It!" James wrote in the caption of the Instagram post. James and Bryant were very close as the two played with and against each other over the years. And with James being a member of the Lakers, he had the opportunity to speak about Bryant when the Lakers paid tribute to him shortly after his death.
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"Kobe is a brother to me," James said. "From the time I was in high school watching him from afar, to getting in this league at 18 and watching him up close, all the battles that we had throughout my career, the one thing that we always shared was that determination to just want to win, to just want to be great. The fact that I'm here now means so much to me. I want to continue, along with my teammates, his legacy."
The Lakers are with 21 other teams in Orlando, Florida in the NBA's bubble. The team is keeping Bryant's memory alive by ending practice with "1-2-3-MAMBA." On Monday, James was asked about the "MAMBA!" chant and said it's important for the team to keeps Bryant's memory alive because of the impact he made on the game.
"The Lakers franchise isn’t what it is today without Kobe’s presence," James said. "Kobe’s presence, his legacy, you put on purple and gold, you put on Laker apparel you think about basketball in general even before I became a Laker his legacy was cemented."
There have been a number of legendary Lakers players over the years but Bryant's impact arguably stands above everyone else. He helped the team win five NBA titles in a 10-year span. Bryant also won the NBA MVP award in 2008 and was named NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010. Bryant was also an 18-time All-Star and a four-time winner of the All-Star Game MVP award.