Kobe Bryant's farewell tour will continue when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night. The contest is the purple and gold's final game before the All-Star break, in which Bryant was voted to participate with the most votes of any NBA player largely based on his legacy and out of respect for his career accomplishments.
As Kobe and the Lakers have travelled around the league this year, opposing players have discussed the effect the Lakers' longtime franchise centerpiece's career has had on their careers and development. In the Lakers prior game, it was Paul George talking about how imitating Bryant led to much of his growth as a player, and Cavaliers star LeBron James similarly praised Bryant's work ethic as forcing him to work harder as a younger player. Mark Medina of the L.A Daily News detailed the relationship between the two NBA legends, and James said not wanting to let Bryant outwork him spurred him towards extra workouts:
"He's done so much, not only for the Lakers organization, but for me as a kid," James told reporters this week. "Growing up, I was watching Kobe and things of that nature and also competing against him..."
"I knew I had to be better because of Kobe Bryant," James said this season. "I knew he was in the gym and I knew he was working on his game. So every day that I didn't want to work out or every day I felt like I couldn't give more, I always thought of Kobe. Because I knew that he was getting better and I was like, ‘Man, if you take a day off, he's going to take advantage of it.'"
Bryant's work ethic throughout his NBA career is legendary among both players and fans, with James just being the latest to praise it. However, this season we are hearing more and more about how Kobe's borderline maniacal desire to improve apparently not only helped him mine every ounce of his own potential, but influenced other players to do the same.
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