With all the hype surrounding LeBron James, and his possibilities as a free agent, Laker fans have been outspokenly against landing the true Kobe nemesis, when in all sincerity they should welcome him with open arms. The debate really comes down to two Laker parties so to speak, the true Laker fans and the Kobe Bryant fans.
For most die-hard Kobe Bryant fans, it seems counterintuitive to be optimistic in the idea of suiting up James on the Lakers since Kobe fans believe any comparison of Kobe and LBJ are not justified. However, like all true fans of any sport, it is okay to have two opinions, one with the heart and the other with the mind. Fully exploring and executing basketball knowledge and respect for the championship ring – to which NBA sports culture measure their league’s superstar players and their legacies- it would be neutral to the forbidden comparison of James and Kobe Bryant. LBJ and Bryant would be stacking wins together like they have for team USA in the Olympic, and more rings for Los Angeles city. It would be hard to argue for Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to refuse raising more banners in Staple Center, because of Kobe and James’ rivalry, one that, to Kobe fans, is not warranted in the first place. Since the combing of the “Big Three”, it is no longer about player and team rivalries. It used to be about Magic and the Lakers versus Bird’s Boston Celtics and Patrick Ewings Knicks versus Reggie Miller’s Pacers.
Today, it is about these players and their focusing on teaming up with other league superstars and winning championships. This is increasingly evident when we look at players and their decisions, sometimes basing their signings on where other players go or do not go. Following this logic and philosophy of the modern NBA game, Laker fans should welcome landing LeBron James, and “The King” teaming up with Bryant, since other teams have been doing so. Without having 2-3 stars on your team it is nearly impossible to advance deep in the playoffs. Laker fans need to understand Kobe is near the end of his career and since a comparison is not warranted, let the two legends suit up together and lead the Lakers past the Celtics as the most all time NBA championship holders. If “The King” and Kobe are stacking rings together, they are not stacking rings against each other, which benefits an aging Bryant playing in a much tougher Western Conference.
LBJ has taken the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals for four consecutive years, winning two out of four trips. Although the East has been relatively weak compared to the West, LeBron James as a Laker would be expected to get LA to the Finals, where the cold blooded veteran Bryant could carry them to a win. Kobe and LeBron could win two more rings together, leading Bryant to surpass Michael Jordan with seven rings and the Lakers past the Celtics with 17 championship banners. True Laker fans should welcome LeBron James, who after Kobe hangs up his jersey in retirement, will truly be the face of NBA; the Lakers have a history of landing players who are regarded as the face of the NBA.
Opinion by Zane Foley