Basketball

LeBron James vows to continue Kobe Bryant’s legacy with the LA Lakers

NBA superstar LeBron James said he was "heartbroken and devastated" over the death of Kobe Bryant, vowing in an Instagram post to continue Bryant's legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion in 20 seasons with the Lakers, died on Sunday, aged 41, in a helicopter crash, only hours after James overtook him for third on the league's all-time scoring list.

"I'm heartbroken and devastated my brother. Man I love you big bro," James posted.

"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 s*** on my back and keep it going!!

"Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here!"

Bryant retired in 2016, the same year James fulfilled his life dream of winning an NBA title with his hometown club, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James led the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals the next two seasons, losing each time to the Golden State Warriors, and in 2018 opted to join the Lakers.

This season, the Lakers have the second-best record in the NBA at 36-10 to lead the Western Conference, with James, 35, averaging 25.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and a league-best 10.7 assists a game.

The NBA postponed this morning's scheduled Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers in the wake of Bryant's tragic death.

In yesterday morning's matches, more players and fans paid tribute to Bryant.

In pre-game introductions, Detroit Pistons players wore shirts with only the Nos. 8 and 24 - a homage to the jersey numbers worn by Bryant - but they lacked Kobe's magic on the court, falling to the visiting Cleveland 100-115.

At Minneapolis, the Timberwolves put a unique spin on the idea after winning an opening tip-off against Sacramento Kings.

Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins placed the ball upon the very spot Bryant sank two free-throws on Dec 14, 2014, to move past Michael Jordan and become the NBA's No. 3 all-time scorer, a position he held before he was overtaken by James.

Sacramento defeated Minnesota 133-129 in overtime, but just as in hosts Chicago's 110-109 win over San Antonio, heartache over Bryant's death tempered the joy of victory.

"There will never be another Kobe Bryant," Chicago's Zach LaVine said. - AFP, REUTERS

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