Dawana added that she was worried the addition of James would upset the development of an “up-and-coming team,” which finished last season with a 35-47 record. But Dawana said she would try her hardest to enter this new era, featuring the greatest player on the planet, with an open mind. After all, Bryant had given the move his blessing via Twitter.
“But I’m not excited about it,” she said.
Mychal Thompson, a former power forward who won two championships with the “Showtime”-era Lakers of the late 1980s, said he understood why so many fans still hold Bryant in such high regard.
“Oh, that’s easy, man: his passion, his competitiveness and his desire to win,” Thompson said in a telephone interview. “He gave fans every ounce he had. Kobe would never take a night off. And if you asked him if he wanted to rest, he would look at you like you’re crazy.”
Thompson was less understanding about the anti-LeBron sentiment in at least one corner of the Lakers fan base. That segment, Thompson said, seems to be afraid that James is supplanting Bryant on the list of all-time greats — assuming, of course, that he has not already. Many fans want to preserve Bryant’s legacy as much as possible.
Glenn Gagan, 25, who traveled to summer league from his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said he did not like James — right up until the minute he signed with the Lakers, and then everything changed. Gagan said he waited five hours at an outlet mall to buy a James jersey in purple and gold.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming for Lakers fans.”
A long time coming, perhaps, but rocky on the landing for Kobe fans who aren’t ready to let go of what was.
Gagan isn’t one of them.
While he proudly sported his new James jersey around summer league, he didn’t feel the need to wear his No. 24 underneath or have it clutched in his hands, though he kept it close. He had given that jersey away, to his girlfriend.