Ever since LeBron James arrived in Los Angeles, the Lakers franchise is back to being synonymous with having all-time great players on the team. For twenty years of the purple and gold’s storied history, that player was Kobe Bryant. With Bryant retired and James still reigning as the league’s best player, there are plenty of stans of Bryant’s that haven’t quite welcomed James with open arms. However, the former Laker wants fans to put aside any allegiances and root for James and the team.
In an interview on the Rich Eisen Show, Bryant talked about what the priority should be for his personal fans that may have resented James in the past:
“I hear that but listen, if you’re a fan of mine, you’re a fan of winning. You’re a fan of the Lakers. I bleed purple and gold. So that’s above anything else. I’ve been a Lakers fan since I was yea high. That’s never going to change. They’ll fall in line.”
Of course, it isn’t shocking from what Laker fans know about Bryant that he would put winning above everything. Adding a talent like James is a franchise-altering move and one that will instantly help in the winning department. With that, Bryant believes his fans will see this and warm up to the idea of having one of his biggest former competitors lead the new era of Laker basketball.
This is a rather important stance for the former Laker to take as there will no doubt be plenty of pressure on James to produce from not only his fanbase but also fans of the franchise in general.
In this same conversation, Bryant revealed that he talked to James on the phone the day the King decided to take his talents to Los Angeles:
“I talked to him the day it was announced. I talked to him and reached out to him and said ‘Welcome to LA. Now you’re a part of the family. If you ever need anything whatsoever, you know where to find me.’ I’m just excited for him.”
When you look back at the times that James and Bryant shared on the court it was clear there was a mutual respect between two of the best to ever play. All great franchises have reinvented themselves by passing the torch to a new generation and with Bryant doing the same for James (and even the team’s younger players such as Kyle Kuzma) there is no denying he is part of the Lakers family.