It has been a week now since Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash. When it happened, the Los Angeles Lakers were still flying back to L.A. following their game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers lost in that game, but it still had a positive note to it as LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant in all-time points scored, entering the third overall spot. Once news of Kobe’s passing spread through the plane, Frank Vogel stepped up and addressed the team. Vogel has continued to show immense leadership, being the first person in the organization to address the public after Kobe’s death. Still, Vogel continues to praise LeBron’s leadership in this situation above his own, doing so again last night after the Lakers’ win against the Sacramento Kings (via Tania Ganguli/LA Times).
“He’s our lion. He’s just a tower of strength.” – Frank Vogel says about LeBron, for both what he does on the court and behind closed doors with the team.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 2, 2020
Those are lofty praises from Vogel to LeBron, and honestly, they might be understatements. The Lakers shielded the players from having to be present in front of the media as all of the players were really going through it. Some players had personal relationships with Kobe while everyone was either inspired by Kobe or grew up watching him play. LeBron, one of the more public and outspoken figures in all of sports, even took the time to grieve with his family and teammates out of the public eye. He returned to the public spotlight in a huge way during the Lakers’ first game since Kobe’s death, giving an amazing speech to the Lakers crowd before the game started.
"Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we've seen over the last three years.” pic.twitter.com/0sS7e91cuz
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2020
And that’s exactly what LeBron was at that moment. An absolute lion and, undoubtedly, the Lakers’ tower of strength. LeBron, from all accounts, led the team by example throughout the week. You could also see LeBron trying to be strong for his teammates during the pre-game ceremonies, especially for Quinn Cook who was really impacted by Kobe’s death.
LOOK: Lebron James and Quinn Cook cry during the Los Angeles Lakers pregame ceremony to honor Kobe Bryant before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on January 31, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. | 📷 Harry How/AFP pic.twitter.com/NMfQJx7PIZ
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) February 1, 2020
LeBron is the most strong and towering force on and off the court in the NBA, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he will continue to be exactly that for these Lakers for the rest of the season. The Lakers organization and fans are incredibly lucky to have him.