LOS ANGELES —
LeBron James has only been a part of the Los Angeles Lakers for 19 months. The West Coast is a late stop on an NBA odyssey that already yielded rings, trophies and innumerable indelible moments in Cleveland and Miami.
Yet when this venerated franchise needed a leader to honor a legend during one of the most traumatic times in its history, James took the microphone and stood alone in a golden spotlight at Staples Center on Friday night.
Five days after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, the simple eloquence of James’ words left most of the arena cheering through tears.
In just four minutes, LeBron’s speech captured the melancholy mood of a city while suggesting it’s both possible and necessary to move on after unthinkable tragedy.
“As I look around this arena, we’re all grieving,” James said. “We’re all hurt. We’re all heartbroken. But when we’re going through things like this, the best thing you can do is lean on the shoulders of your family.”
Cleveland might be James’ home, but a part of him is now permanently purple and gold.
After James’ heart, humor and empathy commanded the arena Bryant essentially built, he tore down any lingering skepticism among the Lakers’ vast fan base about whether LeBron could truly be embraced by LA.
A fan-fueled, 13-year rivalry between Bryant and James for overall NBA supremacy left many Lakers lovers viewing LeBron’s move west with skepticism, even after Bryant hailed the decision.
When James stepped forward a