Kobe Bryant says his die-hard fans will 'fall in line' for LeBron James

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Sunday, August 26, 2018

Kobe Bryant has heard how some of his most die-hard fans might have an issue with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant says if those people are fans of his, they will "fall in line."

"I hear that," Bryant said when asked on "The Rich Eisen Show" whether he is aware that some of his fans have an issue with James being a part of the Lakers family. "But listen, if you are fan of mine, you are a fan of winning, you are a fan of the Lakers. I bleed purple and gold. So, that is above anything else.

"I have been a Lakers fan since I was yay high. That is never going to change. Right? [It] is about winning championships. So, they'll fall in line."

When James announced his decision to join the Lakers early in free agency in July, Bryant reached out to James to welcome him to the Lakers family and to let the Lakers' newest star know that he is available to him whenever James needs anything.

But some in Los Angeles were not so welcoming. A few have chosen to express their feelings by defacing a couple of murals around the Los Angeles area featuring James as a Laker.

Bryant was asked whether James has to lead the Lakers back to a championship in order to be viewed in the same light as Bryant, who won five championships during his 20-year career with the franchise.

"I don't know, making the comparison of him being viewed in the similar vein as me, that doesn't make much sense," Bryant told Eisen. "I think the goal is always to win championships. No matter where you go, that is the goal. And that is his goal, that is Rob's [Pelinka] goal, that is Magic's [Johnson] goal, Jeanie's [Buss] goal, [Rajon] Rondo, all the guys, [Kyle] Kuzma, Lonzo [Ball], they all want to win championships. That is what they are gunning for.

"This is why we play. This is why we are here, is to win championships," Bryant later added. "He wouldn't have come here if he didn't expect to win championships."

Bryant, who just turned 40, also laughed off any notion of him making a comeback and returning from retirement.

"There is about a zero percent chance that I come back and play," Bryant said, after laughing when asked about a rumor of him coming out of retirement. "Nothing. Done. That's it."

"Unfortunately for us athletes, we have been pigeonholed into thinking that we can only be one thing," said Bryant, who won an Oscar for his contributions to the animated short "Dear Basketball" in March.

"So when I retired, everybody is saying he is too competitive, he is not going to know what to do with himself. He is going to have to come back. I took that as a personal challenge of them thinking that I am this one-dimensional person, that all I know is how to dribble and shoot the ball and play basketball and compete at that level. I will never come back to the game. Ever."

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