LeBron James Makes Light of A Reporter Calling Him 'Kobe' After All-Star Game
The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday featured many tributes to Kobe Bryant, with the final one coming while LeBron James spoke to the media.
As James sat on a podium after his team's 157-155 win, a reporter tried to ask him a question but accidentally called him by Kobe's name.
"I don't mind being Kobe this weekend," James said.
The reporter then apologized.
"That's fine," James said. "My mom might not like it, but I'm okay with it."
James has honored Bryant ever since he died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people.
Days after the accident, James wrote on Instagram, "I promise I'll continue your legacy man." He then he got a tattoo on his leg of a black mamba coiled around Bryant's jersey numbers, 8 and 24.
In the last two weeks, James has dealt with his grief by focusing on basketball and finding joy through his teammates and family. At Lakers' home games, the video tributes to Bryant have been replaced by lighthearted prerecorded bits, such as the players picking their celebrity lookalikes or trying to decipher which of their teammates' faces have been mashed together in photos.
But on Sunday, Bryant was everywhere once again.
The best basketball players in the world were together thinking about one of the best basketball players of all time -- and that was powerful.
"You could definitely feel Bean's presence from the start," James said. "...He was definitely here."
There were multiple tributes to Bryant throughout the night.
Magic Johnson made a speech honoring Bryant and encouraged everyone to hold hands during an eight-second moment of silence before the game began. Even the players obliged.
Common talked about Bryant with spoken-word rhymes, saying, "He used his game to touch the world's soul, a king named Kobe Bryant who wore purple and gold."
Team Giannis wore Bryant's No. 24 jersey, while Team LeBron wore No. 2 in honor of Gianna. And photos of Bryant were shown as Jennifer Hudson sang "For All We know" before the game and Chance The Rapper performed "I Was A Rock" at halftime.
James called it "a beautiful day."
"I mean, anything else would be uncivilized," James said. "He's one of the greatest basketball players, one of the most impactful players, and the inspiration that he has, it's showing. How many people not only in the basketball world, but also outside the basketball world, that was touched by a person such as himself."
James went on to talk about how much he enjoyed spending time with Bryant at the 2008 Olympic Games, when they played together on the Redeem Team that won the gold medal.
"We were able to see Michael Phelps swim," James said. "We were able to see the women's national team play a lot of their games. We were able to go around track and field. We did a lot of things besides play basketball."
It's been a tough three weeks for James.
In the Lakers' first game after Bryant's death, James discarded a prewritten speech and spoke off the cuff in front of over 19,000 fans about how much Bryant meant to him. He cried during the national anthem. And then proudly ran onto the court after the team's public address announcer Lawrence Tanter introduced each starter as Bryant.
When a reporter made a mistake Sunday, James got to be Bryant once again.
And he didn't mind one bit.