The last time the Los Angeles Lakers reached the NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant was in the process of leading them to their fifth championship in 11 seasons.
Now, LeBron James has taken the storied franchise to the championship series himself.
After eliminating the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, the four-time MVP talked about the similarities between himself and the Black Mamba.
LeBron James on Kobe Bryant
“Our games are different. As far as our mindset and drive to be the best and not lose…I’m one of the few who can understand the mindset he played with.”
(via @BenGolliver) pic.twitter.com/b0j455RLpU
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 27, 2020
Unlike Bryant, James dealt with plenty of disappointment early in his career. He not only lost in his first two trips to the Finals, but he played poorly in the process.
Plenty of criticism was levied towards him as a result, but James rebounded and won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, then added a third in 2016.
Now, each of his nine most recent trips to the postseason has resulted in a championship series appearance.
By getting through the always-stacked Western Conference, James has also answered the critics who diminished his eight straight Eastern Conference titles by pointing out the relative weakness of his competition there.
Ever since Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January, James vowed to honor his memory by bringing the Lakers a championship.
The 17-year veteran will now have a chance to do just that.