The day after the celebration of life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant, the Lakers took on the Pelicans in the same arena where the celebration took place. Before the game, the team invited WWE legend Ric Flair to pump up the crowd. But he said some things that had fans outraged.
“Los Angeles, home of the greatest franchise in sports, The LA Lakers,” Flair said. “And the home of the greatest athlete in the world today, LeBron James, The King. Lakers, let’s do it! he added before throwing in several of his signature “WOOOOO!” yells.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 26, 2020
As PopCulture.com points out, people online were mad about this.
“This was a huge mistake on behalf of the [Lakers] – they follow up the incredible [Kobe Bryant] tribute hours later by having a fake wrestler from yesteryear on the court giving a shout out to [LeBron James]? Huh?” one person reacted to Flair’s presence and statements at the game.
“For all the years Ric Flair to be a Laker fan, and the Lakers organization wait until LeBron joins the team to bring in Slick Ric to be a hype man?” asked another. “Whatta f–ing disgrace. Kareem, Magic and Kobe ‘in God’s hands’ deserved better than this fraudulent s–…”
“This is [Kobe Bryant] house!” declared a third Lakers fan. “[LeBron James] never won no chip here. This the type of shit y’all doing now? Kobe’s memorial was just yesterday and Lebron didn’t even attend! He’s the definition of a clout chaser! First yall get Dwade now this, [NBA on TNT] turning y’all off now!”
The Blast spoke to Flair’s rep who said Ric had a reservation prior to the game about doing the intro out of respect to Kobe and the families who have suffered such a horrific tragedy. But after talking it over briefly with the Lakers PR they both felt it would be ok to put a smile on the fans faces during such a dark time. The fans did love it and the energy was amazing. Ric certainly didn’t mean any disrespect and was going to the game anyway with his wife Wendy as they were in town for his 71st b-day.
“To Vanessa and the kids, Kobe’s parents, sisters and the families who lost a loved one on that tragic day, we grieve with you,” he later continued. “All of us were forever changed on January 26th.”
“Mamba, you were taken away from us way too soon. Your next chapter of life was just beginning,” he said. “But now it’s time for us to continue your legacy. You said yourself that everything negative, pressure, challenges is all opportunity for me to rise. So now take the sage advice and now rise from anguish and begin with the healing.
“Just know that we got your back, little brother, I’ll look after things down here, I’ll be sure to teach Natalia, Bianka and baby Capri all your moves,” he continued. “And I promise I will not teach them my free throw techniques.”