There were many emotional moments Friday night during the Lakers first game back in the Staples Center since Kobe Bryant’s death, but perhaps the part that hit fans the hardest was when LeBron James spoke to the crowd about his friend before the game started.
“Now I got something written down, you know they asked me to kinda stay on course, or whatever the case may be,” James said. “But Laker Nation, man, I would be selling ya’ll short if I read off this shit, so I’ma go straight from the heart.
“Now, I know at some point, we will have a memorial for Kobe,” James continued. “But I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the everything. The countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be. Tonight, we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the past three years, man.”
LeBron delivers an emotional speech during the Lakers' tribute for Kobe.
Catch the re-air of the Blazers/Lakers game at 4pm ET on NBA TV. pic.twitter.com/iyW03iLBRG
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 1, 2020
Fans, friends, and writers flocked to social media to share their thoughts on the heartfelt speech.
“Beautifully said @KingJames,” his former teammate Dwyane Wade tweeted.
“LeBron James was the first true superstar athlete to live out his prime in the social media age. And he has done zero to pick at, other than choosing to play for different teams (for less money). His Kobe tribute was another example of a role model. He is a gem,” writer Andrew Brandt added.
“I’d come close a couple of times, but the LeBron speech finally got me good & proper. How anyone can hate on that man, I just don’t know. Maybe through what has happened to Kobe, we can learn to celebrate special people that happen to also be athletes just a little more,” another wrote.
“LeBron basically telling everyone to care more about their families and personal lives instead of their jobs is the energy I hope everyone carries through 2020 and beyond,” someone else tweeted.
Take 1:43 and listen to LeBron speak on Kobe 🙏 pic.twitter.com/lhMyuAeuMr
— Athlete Swag (@AthleteSwag) February 1, 2020
“Also thought LeBron’s speech was terrific and important. One of the best things he’s done on a basketball court. It’s so hard to give a thoughtful speech when you’re upset without breaking down. He hit all the right beats and elevated the night,” writer Bill Simmons said.
“At was incredible speech last night
@KingJames. hope Kobe Bryant is watching and I know we all miss him,” a fan added.