FILE – LeBron James greets Kobe Bryant during the first half at the Quicken Loans Arena on February 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller / Getty Images / AFP
NBA superstar LeBron James said Monday he was "broken and devastated" about Kobe Bryant's death while vowing to continue Bryant's legacy in the Los Angeles Lakers championship.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion in 20 seasons with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday at the age of 41, just hours after Lakers star James overtook him in third place in the league's leaderboard.
"I broke and devastated my brother," James wrote on Instagram. "Man, I love you, big brother.
"I promise I will continue your legacy! You mean so much to all of us, especially #LakerNation, and it is my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep going !!
“Please give me the strength from heaven above and watch over me! I have US here! "
The NBA postponed the planned Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday after Bryant's tragic death. The Lakers' next game is scheduled for Friday against Portland.
James also made it clear that he was still trying to process the shocking death of an iconic, long-time rival and dear friend long before they expected to say goodbye, with the crash killing a total of nine people, including Bryants Daughter Gigi.
"I'm not ready, but I'm here now," James said to begin his message. "Man, I'm sitting here trying to write something for this post, but every time I try I start crying again, I'm just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship / bond / fraternity that we have had!
“I literally only heard your voice on Sunday morning before I left Philly to return to LA. I never thought that in a million years this would be the last conversation we would have. WTF !! "
Advancing the game @KingJames. Respect my brother? # 33644
– Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 26, 2020
The Lakers have won 16 NBA titles in team history, one that falls short of the Boston Celtics record. Bryant won five titles in seven NBA final games and was crowned in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010.
But the Lakers have had six consecutive losses since their last playoff appearance, including the last three campaigns in Bryant's career.
This season, the Lakers set the second best record in the NBA with 36 to 10 points to lead the Western Conference. James averaged 25.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and a league record of 10.7 assists per game.
James had reached the NBA final eight years in a row and nine times in his career until the Lakers struggled with the club in its first season last year.
Bryant retired in 2016. The same year, James fulfilled his lifelong dream of winning an NBA title with his home club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, after getting his first two crowns at the Miami Heat.
James led the Cavaliers into the NBA final over the next two seasons, losing to Golden State each time. In 2018, he decided to leave Cleveland and join the Lakers.
James said his heart went to Bryant's widow Vanessa and Kobe's surviving daughters.
"There is so much more I want to say, but I just can't because I can't make it!" James wrote. "Until we see my brother again !!"
James' message appeared next to a photo of him in Laker's uniform, on which he greeted Bryant as he got up from a court seat.
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