The Los Angeles Lakers are accustomed to seeing A-list celebrities sitting courtside at the Staples Center, but the presence of franchise legend Kobe Bryant during Sunday's win over the Atlanta Hawks was an entirely different experience for LeBron James and his teammates.
"Just having him in the building and knowing what he meant to this franchise and L.A. for me and my teammates, what it means to be a part of this Laker Nation and Laker family, it's a beautiful thing," James told reporters postgame, including ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "And for me, I grew up watching, admiring. I was one of the kids, obviously, who had a chance to come out straight out of high school, so he did it, and I was just watching him.
"It's just dope. It's just so surreal for me, just a kid from Akron, to be able to have a guy like Kobe just take time out of his day. Even at this point in my career, it's still special."
Anthony Davis, who's playing in his first season in L.A., is well aware of Bryant's accomplishments with the purple and gold. The six-time All-Star hopes to create his own Lakers legacy.
"I never thought I'd be playing here in such an iconic franchise and have the opportunity to do something great here," Davis said. "Obviously, it's going to be nothing compared to what Kobe's done here, but just trying to write my own story and take it game by game, year by year and just keep building."
The Lakers sit atop the NBA's standings at 11-2 and are seeking their first playoff appearance since the 2012-13 campaign.