Lakers legend Kobe Bryant spoke with The Undefeated about his role in bringing LeBron James to Los Angeles. He told the team they needed to shape things up before James would want to join the organization.
"I’ll tell you, when [Lakers owner] Jeanie Buss came to me and said, ‘I really want to go after [LeBron],’ I said, ‘Jeanie, he’s not coming here until you clean up this s— here,'" Bryant told the Undefeared. "The last thing LeBron wants to do is come to an organization that has a lot of infighting, a lot of the stuff going on. I said, ‘Jeanie, it’s time for you to take ownership of this franchise. He’s not going to come if you don’t.’"
The King made his Lakers debut on Thursday night at Portland. Although the Lakers fell to the Trail Blazers in their season opener and battle serveral obvious struggles, Bryant told The Undefeated he believes Los Angeles will be definite playoff team in 2019. The five-time NBA champion and lifelong Laker added that Los Angeles is building a team that could potentially challenge the West's four-time consecutive conference winners, the Golden State Warriors.
"The Lakers are going to surprise a lot of people. Rob [Pelinka, the Lakers' general manager], has smartly built a team of physical players. Big, versatile, fast, physical players," Bryant said. "He understands that if you want to challenge Golden State, you can’t challenge them with shooting. That’s what they do. You’ve got to beat them somewhere else.
"You have to beat them with size," he added. "Chippiness. Feistiness. Strength and speed. And he has a team that has that. He has a mixture of vets that are still in their primes and young kids that are hungry and open-minded and willing to learn. A team that can compete and challenge. That is a dangerous mix."
James credited the Lakers' opening night loss to a lack of team chemistry - something that he said takes time to build. It's clear that both Bryant and James are confident in what the team can do as they continue throughout the season.
The Lakers host the Houston Rockets at the Staples Center for their home opener on Saturday, Oct. 20. Tip off is set for 10:30 p.m. ET.