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Can LeBron James Emulate Kobe Bryant's Impact at LA Lakers!?

Achyut Dubey
ANALYST
Feature
723   //    Timeless

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James

Nobody in the Lakers’ future will get their hands on jerseys 8 and 24. They're up in the rafters for the world to see and for the fans to remember, that what they had in Kobe Bryant was a 'Once in a Lifetime' player. From the start to the finish of his saga, Kobe wore a Lakers jersey on, as he dropped 33,643 points averaging 25.0 ppg throughout his career.

He scored 60 points in his farewell game and received what was regarded as one of the best send-offs in international sports around the globe. He received a fitting send-off owing to his undying loyalty towards the franchise and the city, ever since he was drafted in 1996 by the Hornets and traded to the Lakers.

LeBron is in the prime-form of his career right now (as he has been for so long), but there’s no denying the fact that he just played his 15th season in the league and is 33 years old (set to turn 34 this December). In 2017–18 he played a full 82-game regular season for the first time in his career and led the NBA in minutes played per game (36.9) while averaging 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, and a new career-high 9.1 assists per game, ending up second on the league MVP race. Even after factoring-in his insane work ethic and fitness level, one can only see him playing 3 to 4 more wholesome LeBron-like seasons.

The roadmaps to greatness for both the legends have been fairly different, but the blockbuster deal that has brought The Kid from Akron to the Black Mamba’s land has paved the way for some mildly-unjust comparisons yet again. The King is yet to win two more titles to match Bryant’s NBA Championship tally. And the fact that he has chosen the franchise that breathes Kobe Bryant, falls exactly in line with LeBron’s head-on attitude in life. He’ll team up with the likes of Kuzma, Hart, Lonzo, Rondo and Lance Stephenson to steer another challenging campaign for the Larry O’Brien trophy for the very first time in the same conference as the mighty Golden State Warriors.

He has reached the NBA Finals for the past 8 seasons, an unbelievable feat. That may change this season if he continues his dismal playoff campaign against the Warriors, this while escorting a rather postseason-inexperienced roster. But if we have learned anything from LeBron’s illustrious career so far, it is the fact that he works just fine when his back is against the wall. Playoff Bron is nightmarish to the core, no wonder he is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in the playoffs with 6,911 points, averaging 28.9 points per game in the postseason.

Nobody expects Bron to overshadow the legacy Bryant built during his stint with the Lakers, mainly because Kobe wore purple-n-gold for 20 seasons. For James, that would not be physically possible. Also, comparing the loyalties of both these legends towards NBA franchises would honestly be like comparing apples to oranges. Whilst one never switched allegiances throughout his career, the other kept moving back and forth in search of rings.

Die-hard Kobe fans in the city of Los Angeles have not taken the LeBron murals in good spirit. That shows us the concrete nature of the everlasting Kobe fever that swirls about in the air of LA. The Lakers crazed cult for Kobe will come for LeBron James, and he will have to face them just like he faced the repercussions of all his previous loyalty switches.

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Achyut Dubey
ANALYST
Amateur Writer with an innate love for basketball. Anything NBA, I'm down for it.
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