LeBron James and Kobe Bryant together at last?
That is what one report claims, citing a source close to LeBron that the new member of the Los Angeles Lakers believes Kobe could still come out of retirement to wear the purple and gold again. The report comes from Hollywood Life — a celebrity gossip outlet that normally doesn’t delve into the world of sports — and claims that LeBron believes a comeback could still be in the cards for Kobe, who retired at the end of the 2016 season.
“LeBron is convinced Kobe could return and play again for the Lakers,” a source told the outlet. “LeBron feels like despite what Kobe or his wife have said publicly, when the time comes, anything is possible.”
Though Kobe Bryant would be one of the oldest players in the NBA at 39, he has stayed in peak condition and LeBron believes he could still be a contributor, the source claimed.
“LeBron hopes to make a run at the playoffs next season with the Lakers, and he feels like Kobe is still strong enough to ball in the league,” the source said. “LeBron feels that Kobe is one of the greatest players ever and could still contribute.”
The report noted that Kobe’s former teammate (and subsequent rival) Shaquille O’Neal also said on his podcast this week that he also believes Kobe is coming back.
“Let’s talk about the Lakers parties. There’s already excitement with LeBron coming here. I don’t know how ticket sales are – boom, boom, boom. But if you make that announcement – ooooh – the Kobe jerseys and LeBron jerseys, side by side – a little package. It’ll explode. Right?”
O’Neal’s musings sounded more hypothetical, imagining what Kobe could do coming off the bench for 15 or 20 minutes a game and playing alongside LeBron.
There would likely be some complications to a return, including how the Lakers would market the team that is supposed to be led by LeBron James if one of the most popular players of all time were to return. The Lakers would also have to find a rotation that would allow Bryant to play limited minutes.
While there is no solid source behind these rumors — and Hollywood Life is known more for reports on the comings and goings of the Kardashians than breaking NBA news — there would be a strong precedent for the excitement. Kobe and LeBron played together on two U.S. Men’s Olympic teams, winning gold both in 2008 and 2012.
So far, Kobe Bryant hasn’t offered any comment on the rumors that he could come out of retirement, and LeBron James hasn’t said anything, either.