One day prior to Kobe Bryant's tragic passing, LeBron James passed the NBA legend for third on the league's all-time scoring list.
After the game, James reflected on his relationship with Bryant, who spent the entirety of his 20-year career on James' current team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
"When I was a kid in high school, I was coming up the ranks when Kobe came into the league," James said. "It wasn't a dream of mine to come straight from high school at that point in time into the NBA, but I was like, 'Wow, a 17-year-old, 18-year-old kid, being able to make that jump, that's pretty damn cool. And as I started playing more ball in high school, the things he was doing on the floor I admired and wanted to be a part of.
"I went to ABCD Camp and he came and talked to the kids that was there and I was just listening. I was trying to soak in everything I could. I remember one thing that he said was, 'If you want to be great at it or want to be one of the greats, you've got to put the work in. There's no substitution to work. I was a 15-year-old kid at that camp. You can actually find the footage.
"And in 2001, I believe I was playing in New Jersey and the All-Star Game was in [Philadelphia]. That Saturday, me and Maverick [Carter] drove to the Intercontinental in downtown Philadelphia and he gave me a pair of his shoes, which I ended up wearing that following night. It was the red, white and blue Kobe's. I was a [size] 15 and he was a [size] 14 and I wore them anyways. I sat and just talked to him for a little bit, I rocked them in the game and it was the same night that we played Oak Hill against [Carmelo Anthony]. And then I was able to see what he was able to do the next night winning [All-Star Game] MVP here in Philly, that following night.
"As I got drafted, I still just admired him, seeing what he was able to accomplish, winning championships. Early in his career where he learned from the misses that he had in the series against Utah and he just used that as motivation and got better and better and better, winning multiple championships. I continued to admire him throughout my high school ranks.
"And then as competitors, just seeing the work ethic that he put into the game. He had zero flaws offensively. Zero. You backed off of him, he could shoot the three. You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot the midrange, he could post, he could make free throws, he had zero flaws offensively. And that's something I admired as well, just being at a point where the defense will always be at bay, where you felt like they couldn't guard you at all offensively, because you were just immortal offensively because of your work ethic.
"We take it down to 2008 where we become the 'Redeem Team.' It was a dream come true for me to be able to line up alongside of him and just admiring him for so many years and seeing him from afar and then being able to be in practices with him and me watching and learning, it's just too much. The story is just too much. It doesn't make sense. And just to make a long story short, now I'm here in a Lakers uniform, in Philadelphia, where he's from, where I met him, he gave me his shoes, he won at All-Star Weekend, it's surreal. It doesn't make sense, but the universe just puts things in your life and I guess when you're living the right way or you're just giving everything to whatever you're doing, things happen organically and it's not supposed to make sense but it just happens. I'm happy just be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers. The man's got two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It's just crazy."
You can see James' full comments on Bryant in the video below:
Bryant's final tweet was congratulating James on his accomplishment on Saturday night.
The 41-year-old Bryant, along with his 13-year -old daughter, Gianna, were reportedly killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday. A total of nine people died in the crash.