LeBron James’ dunk tribute to Kobe Bryant last week was the talk of the Lakers locker room days later.
James’ double-clutch reverse dunk on a breakaway Thursday night against the Rockets at Staples Center looked identical to one Bryant – who was among nine killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 – pulled off against the Kings in 2001.
A member of the Lakers’ video team put the slams side by side on the team’s Twitter account, leading it to go viral.
“I didn’t really predetermine that either until I jumped,” James told reporters Saturday after the beat the Warriors. “I just jumped and kind of figured it out, and then … it’s crazy how it’s the same exact dunk, the same exact hoop that Kobe did [it on] — what, 19 years ago or something like that? That was nice.”
He jokingly told his teams like in the movie “The 6th Man”, Bryant took control of him during the sequence, which teammate JaVale McGee called “pretty dope.”
“Kobe came down, put himself in my body and gave me that dunk on that break,” James said.
The tribute went a step further as James said he watched the video with his son, Bronny, before Sierra Canyon High School’s loss to Long Island Lutheran on Saturday.
Bronny nailed the dunk in pregame warm-ups.
“Kobe is in all of us right now,” James said.
NBA photographer Andrew D. Bernstein was able to capture James in flight to the hoops on the jam.
“When I saw it for the first time, I was like, ‘Holy s—, that is an unbelievable photo,’” James said. “And then when I found out how it was taken.”