The team plane was in the air when the news broke. There were over three hours of air time before the Lakers plane would land when Frank Vogel had to get up in front of his team and let them know that Kobe had died in a helicopter crash. Three hours with nowhere to go, walk it off, get mad, be alone.
Since he got to LA, the Kobe -Lebron dynamic has been under the spotlight. Both competitive, students of the game who cared about their place in Laker and NBA history. Would Kobe embrace Lebron, give him support to be the best Laker he could be? These were questions we were all interested in.
It took a while at first, but mostly because Kobe put some distance between him and basketball. He went to work on a movie, a series of children’s books, the Mamba academy and got more involved in his investment fund. Kobe could finally go to all the games and give homework 100% attention. He supported LeBron by giving him his space, not stealing the spotlight by showing up at Staples all the time.
They talked more than we knew. The last time was the night before the crash. LeBron passed Kobe on the all-time scorer list, and he did it as a Laker. Kobe called to congratulate him, few of LeBron’s teammates listened in on the call. They literally talked to him the night before, and they had to accept that would be the last time they talk to Kobe.
Kobe’s last social media post was congratulating LeBron for passing him on the all-time scorer list. One of his last calls was to LeBron. A very exclusive club of men know what it’s like to carry the Lakers on your back. That’s a special bond and appreciation. That’s why it took LeBron some time to gather his thoughts, start saying goodbye to Kobe.
“I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾”LeBron James
We’re sure LeBron will have the strength and that he won’t be alone. Kobe inspired and challenged all of us to be the best we can be, in the end, that will be his most significant victory.