Kobe Bryant (1978-2020), suffered a very tragic death along with his daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant. Their deaths were very sudden and unexpected. This left the NBA family in utter shock and disbelief. LeBron James, currently playing with the Los Angeles Lakers, was very close to the Bryant Family. He offered his condolences to Bryant’s wife and children in a very emotional post on Instagram. The thing that makes James’ reactions more emotional is the fact that he had a phone call with Bryant just one day before the helicopter crash.
According to sources that told Shams Charania, Senior lead NBA Insider/Writer/Analyst for The Athletic and Stadium, ‘LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had phone call late Saturday night after James passed Bryant on the NBA scoring charts.’
One final conversation: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had phone call late Saturday night after James passed Bryant on the NBA scoring charts, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Several Lakers players listened into call — in what would be their final memory of Bryant's voice.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 27, 2020
LeBron James passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. He did so in Philadelphia which is Bryant’s hometown, making the moment especially meaningful.
Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis, gathered at the team’s facility on Sunday, according to the LA Times. General manager Rob Pelinka, who was Bryant’s agent and a close family friend, reportedly also spent time on Sunday with Bryant’s widow, Vanessa. The team released its first statement related to Bryant’s death Monday.
While Bryant and James never played together in the NBA, they were teammates on Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Further, they existed together in the tight community of NBA legends. Few players have experienced basketball stardom at their level. At the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, Bryant said of James that “when I leave, he’ll be the elder statesman,” symbolically passing him the torch as the NBA’s most widely respected superstar.
LeBron James’ Memories with Kobe Bryant
While the timing of the call itself is unclear, James spoke at length about Bryant’s impact on the game and his career Saturday night.
"He gave me a pair of his shoes which I ended up wearing that following night. I was a 15 and he was a 14 and I wore them anyways." @KingJames talks about his relationship with @kobebryant coming full circle after passing him on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 🤝 #Lakers pic.twitter.com/n6p4nN5sQk
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 26, 2020
The Lakers were flying back from Philadelphia when they found out about Bryant’s death. They have not played a game since then. The team, and especially LeBron James need time to process the news of their idol’s death.