On Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers players, coaches, and staff got together at their El Segundo, California practice facility for the first time since Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others tragically died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, ESPN reported.
Sources told ESPN that after players did a light workout, the team shared stories about the late Lakers legend. People on the team's staff also joined in by recounting moments they shared with Kobe. "Everybody in the company has a Kobe story on their version of a Kobe story," a Lakers source told ESPN.
New story: The Lakers gathered for lunch Tuesday and it turned into a cathartic Kobe story time, sources tell ESPN, complete with a toast of vino for the Mamba https://t.co/ozX5NNzv1q— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 29, 2020
LeBron reportedly shared a story about the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Bryant played against Spain and his Lakers teammate Pau Gasol. James recounted how Kobe "blew up" at Gasol, leaving him on the floor at the start of the game. Dr. Judy Seto, the Lakers' director of sports performance, then added that Kobe ran through Gasol because he wanted to show him where he needed to improve so that they could go on to win a title. Before the Olympics, the Lakers lost in the finals to the Celtics. Gasol was labeled "soft" by some due to his performance and Kobe was trying to send a message.
"He knows me, man," Bryant previously said of the move. "I don't play, and for us, it was important to send that message, too. We had just come off losing to the Celtics, and I wanted to send Pau a message as well in, 'This is what you have to be willing to do in order to win titles.' So, it was kind of a dual message, one for our team and USA and winning this game, winning this medal, but also for Pau in understanding this is the line that you have to cross in order to be a champion."
The Lakers went on to the win the NBA championship the following season in 2009.
you'll always be in my heart... my big brother... 💛 pic.twitter.com/ytJ2JDKNaB— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 28, 2020
On Monday, LeBron posted a tribute to Kobe on Instagram and promised to continue the 5-time NBA champion's legacy. "My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids," James wrote. "I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here!"
I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had! I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾
A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Jan 27, 2020 at 6:43pm PST
The Lakers were scheduled to play the Clippers on Tuesday night but the game was postponed by the NBA in the wake of Kobe's death.