There is a segment of the massive Laker fan base that are more Kobe Bryant fans than Lakers fans. They rooted for the Lakers because he was on the team, pushed back against any negative narrative (such as saying he missed a lot of clutch shots, which he did), and generally thought Kobe walked on water.
Those fans have been slow to get on the “LeBron James is a Laker” bandwagon and welcome him to the family, in part because they see LeBron and his legacy as one of the things Kobe is judged against. It leads to some idiots vandalizing LeBron murals.
Kobe is on board with LeBron the Laker and says his fans will come around, as he said on the Rich Eisen show.
“Listen, if you are a fan of mine, you are a fan of winning, you are a fan of the Lakers. I bleed purple and gold. So, that is above anything else. I have been a Lakers fan since I was yay high. That is never going to change. Right? [It] is about winning championships. So, they’ll fall in line.”
LeBron made a bet with his legacy in coming to the Lakers: Win a title here and it goes up a notch, but fail to and — fair or not — it gets a little blemish. The Lakers are one of the storied franchises of the league and the stars that have come to the team via free agency or trade — from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaq to Pau Gasol — have won rings. That is the bar for the Lakers. It’s going to take a couple of years to get the Lakers there, but that is the standard.
That doesn’t mean Kobe is better than him.