On Saturday, LeBron James and the Lakers broke a decade-long drought to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
For the entire Lakers organization, the emotions were understandably bittersweet. Making (and winning) the Finals was the team’s goal from the moment Anthony Davis and LeBron teamed up in Los Angeles. But this Western Conference title also came eight months after Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash.
And though LeBron and Kobe had a close relationship, they were never able to meet up one-on-one since LeBron joined the Lakers in 2018. It’s a regret that still lingers for LeBron, and he opened up about that in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.
Via Chris Haynes:
Due to the conflicting and chaotic schedules of each superstar, the two could never establish a firm date. Each time they came across one another, the meeting was brought up, but it kept getting put on the backburner.
It’s something that still bothers James to this day.
“Of course, you think there’s going to be time for us to get together and I understand that there are regrets in life, but I definitely wish I had that moment with him,” James told Yahoo Sports. “I do remember when I decided to come here, he sent me a text right away and said, ‘Welcome, brother. Welcome to the family.’ That was a special moment because at the time, Laker faithful wasn’t [fully in on me]. A lot of people were saying, ‘Well, we might not want LeBron at this point in his career,’ and, ‘Is he right? Is he going to get us back [to the Finals]?’ So to hear from him and get his stamp of approval, it meant a lot. I don’t ever question myself, but when it’s coming from Kobe, it definitely meant a lot.”
That text was also echoed in Kobe’s public reaction to LeBron joining the Lakers.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 2, 2018
LeBron added that it taught him to never take people or life for granted.
The Lakers will face the winner of the Celtics-Heat series in the NBA Finals.