Long before he was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James ushered in a new era to the NBA with the Miami Heat. He teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to create a true superteam that NBA teams would try to model in the following seasons. In many ways, this started the player empowerment era.
One NBA legend who never quite bought into this was Kobe Bryant. Bryant undoubtedly got help from great teammates during his career but he never sought out the superteam like LeBron and co. (and stars after LeBron) did.
In fact, Kobe was the one who inspired these stars to seek each other out and form superteams. Wade recently confirmed in an interview that he called up LeBron after Kobe won his fifth championship and used it as motivation to put together the superteam in Miami.
NBA fans can blame Kobe Bryant and the Lakers for the Heat superteam
In a weird way, Kobe Bryant is the one who inspired the player empowerment era and changed the way that NBA teams and players do business with each other. All of these trade demands and free-agency movement? That all falls on Kobe’s shoulders.
It isn’t Kobe’s fault that he was so great but it is fitting that he was the one who ushered in this new era considering his career was marked by the fact that he never left LA. Outside of Stephen Curry, there has not really been a marquee superstar who has shown the same level of loyalty to his fanbase.
As annoying as it was to watch the Warriors and Cavaliers play in the NBA Finals for four years in a row, the Lakers did eventually benefit from this player empowerment era. LeBron wanted to come to LA to make movies and don the purple and gold. His influence allowed the team to also bring in Anthony Davis, leading to a championship in 2020.
But overall, it is safe to say that most NBA fans are not happy with how the league operates now and how players often change teams like they change outfits. And it is all because of one all-time great who won five championships with just one team.