Kobe Bryant gave the LeBron James' signing an understated thumbs up Sunday night but by Monday he was saying the Lakers' dreams "are substantially bigger now."
"Welcome to the family," the former Lakers superstar tweeted initially, offering congratulations to, among others, another franchise icon, Magic Johnson, who helped engineer the reported four-year, $154 million signing.
While his nod was relatively muted compared to some current Lakers, according to ESPN.com, he gave an ALL-CAPS response when asked what he thought of the deal: "I LOVE IT."
Appearing later Monday on ESPN and ESPN Radio, Bryant was more effusive, telling host Stephen A. Smith at one point that "anything that I can do whatsoever to help LeBron bring a championship back to the city of L.A., I am all for it."
"I spoke to (LeBron) during the playoffs and then I talked to him last night, right after the decision. I told him, 'Welcome to the family, man.' It sounds crazy but I said, 'Dude, you are part of the family now. So anything you need on my end, I got you. Whatever the case may be, I am here for you.' Just wishing him and his family the best and looking forward to seeing them when they get in. …
"Dude, as people, you got to help your brothers do well. I had a great run, I played 20 years, it was awesome, I had a great time, we are fortunate enough to win five championships and all that. Now it is somebody else's time. And that is what the Lakers have always been about.
"When I came here, Magic (Johnson) welcomed me with open arms, me and Shaq (O'Neal), and we were able to carry on the tradition with Magic's and Kareem's (Abdul-Jabbar) support and certainly it is our responsibility to pay that forward. So anything that I can do whatsoever to help LeBron bring a championship back to the city of L.A., I am all for it."
READ: LeBron James primed to cement all-time great legacy at Lakers
Bryant repeatedly said Monday that owner Jeanie Buss set this Lakers makeover in motion when she took control of the franchise, cleaned house and hired Magic Johnson at president of basketball operations and longtim Bryant agent and friend Rob Pelinka as GM.
In an appearance on ESPN's "The Jump," the hyper-competitive Bryant recounted an interaction he had with Buss.
"I sent Jeanie a picture from a meme from the 'Game of Thrones.' I sent her a picture of Khaleesi riding on the ship going back to her homeland with all the ships behind her. And I told her, I said, 'Jeanie' — because she was having a hard time saying, OK, do I want to take over the organization or not — I said, 'Jeanie, sometimes the Mother of Dragons has just got to be the Mother of Dragons.' And Jeanie went full Khaleesi."
Now what are the expectations for a team that was 35-47 in 2017-18?
"With LeBron on this roster, I don't think it will be much of an issue to make the playoffs. The dreams are substantially bigger now. LeBron accelerates the learning curve for these young guys and they will be able to learn a lot faster because they will get a chance to watch him work every single day, how he comes to practice, how he takes care of his body and how he handles his nutrition. They will be able to learn really, really quickly. This is really going to help Lonzo's and Kyle's growth and the rest of the guys. …
"For us to have a player like LeBron here, it just creates so much energy [for the city of Los Angeles and the NBA]. Players like Lonzo (Ball) and Kyle (Kuzma) and others now have that really good pressure to push them forward sooner rather than later. I can't wait to see them respond to it."
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