LeBron James and Kobe Bryant: playing for Lakers

Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday issued a last word before he boarded the ill-fated helicopter.

It was a message on Twitter to Lebron James, after news that James had passed Kobe’s NBA scoring record.

“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother 💪🏾 #33644”, he wrote.

It was like passing the baton anew to James, who had adored him as a teenager.

In a report by AP on Sunday, LeBron James was a teenager when he first met Kobe Bryant at a youth basketball camp. He was in awe of his idol and ears open as the Los Angeles Lakers star offered advice to the prodigy that has lasted to this day.

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“I was just listening,” James said. “I was just trying to soak everything up I could. I remember one thing he said was that if you want to try and be great at it, and want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in.”

James put in the work and followed Bryant’s path — from making the leap from high school straight to the NBA, to winning NBA titles, and, eventually, to playing in Los Angeles. With a driving right-handed layup, James no longer chased Bryant, he zoomed past him for third place on the NBA’s career scoring list.

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“I’m just happy to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats to ever play,” James said.

With a tribute to Bryant written on his Nikes, James scored 29 points in front of a roaring 76ers’ crowd, but the Lakers fell short in a 108-91 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night.

James scribbled “Mamba 4 Life” as he chased Bryant, the five-time champion, in Philly. Fans stood with phones pointed toward the court, waiting to capture a slice of history that came when James scored the milestone basket with 7:23 left in the third quarter. James entered 18 points shy of passing Bryant, and the layup gave him 33,644 points. James stands third with 33,655. Bryant finished his career with 33,643, all with the Lakers.

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“Continuing to move the game forward (at)KingJames. Much respect my brother (hash)33644,” Bryant tweeted.

James waved to the Philadelphia crowd that gave him a rousing standing ovation when the mark was announced by the public address announcer. The Sixers also posted a graphic of the NBA’s top 10 career scorers with images of James in Lakers and Miami Heat jerseys.