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LeBron James wanted to be just like Kobe Bryant when growing up

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Both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are legendary figures in the game of basketball and made a tremendous impact when we're talking about the popularisation of the NBA. LeBron previously said watching Bryant in his final season was "very emotional" for him.

Growing up LeBron James idolized Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. James put Jordan on a special tier believing that he could never be on the same level as the Hall-of-Famer. Bryant, on the other hand, was someone that James imitated and tried achieving the same amount of success and respect around the league.

When he was asked about his fondest memory of Bryant, the Lakers star went back to his high school days.

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"I think my most fond moment is he gave me his shoes when I was in high school. I think I was playing in a tournament in Teaneck, N.J., and they were playing in the [2002] All-Star game in Philly. And I had an opportunity to go meet him, and he gave me a pair of his shoes, and I actually wore them in a game against Oak Hill, against Melo [Carmelo Anthony], actually. So, six degrees of separation right there."

He also mentioned how he wanted to be just like Bryant when he was a youngster.

"In high school I wore a nappy afro because of Kobe Bryant. I always said my inspiration came from Jordan, but I always thought Jordan was so out of this world that I could never get there. Kobe was someone that I just always kind of wanted to be like and play like. And then, just being a competitor, he took me to that next level, and understanding how important competition is and just have a willingness to never die."

While James never got the chance to face Bryant in the NBA finals, its quite clear the two always had mutual respect for one another. And now James will do what Bryant did for him, motivate a younger generation of upcoming players.

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