It was a rivalry that was, well… never really a rivalry to begin with. Even so, that hasn’t kept Kobe Bryant and LeBron James from sharing the same headline this week. During Bryant’s sit-down with ESPN on Sunday, he went on the defensive for the much-maligned King James.
“I think people need to lay off that kid, that’s what I think. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well playing on the Olympic team, and I think they just need to back up off him and just let him play and let him live his life. Let him make his decisions, let him mature as a player.”
While James has quickly become the NBA’s resident villain, not so long ago, that title belonged to Bryant.
Battling through multiple PR-disasters during his career – including a dismissed sexual assault charge in ’03 – Bryant has been able to rebuild his reputation and elude much of the ire from the general public.
Kobe seemed to call on those memories in his defense of LeBron.
“It’s tough to be under a microscope like that all the time. So I would like everyone to just back off him and let him play.”
As Bryant’s career has shown, the most important ingredient in PR-rehab is winning, something that Kobe has mastered, and LeBron has been mastered by.