LeBron James reflects on Kobe Bryant's warm welcome to Lakers

NBA superstar LeBron James has helped bring the Los Angeles Lakers back to the Finals with their 4-1 series win over the Denver Nuggets.

His friend Kobe Bryant was the last player to lead the Lakers there, and with his passing earlier this year, the team, city of Los Angeles and the basketball world as a whole are reflecting on past memories of Bryant.

LeBron and Kobe are among the biggest names in the league over the past few decades and both were friends and competitors who respected each other as people and as players. James says he has had one regret, and that's not spending more time with Bryant and wishes their busy schedules hadn't gotten in the way of a final dinner. 

When James first signed with the team, he says the two talked about getting dinner so Bryant could give him the L.A. rundown, but they never ended up having the meal together. 

"Of course, you think there's going to be time for us to get together and I understand that there are regrets in life, but I definitely wish I had that moment with him," James told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

After proving the doubters wrong that, at 35 years old, he could make another Finals appearance as a member of the Lakers, he reflects on Kobe's reaction to him joining the team and how Bryant never questioned him fitting in with the team. That confidence made James feel even better about the move.

"I do remember when I decided to come here, he sent me a text right away and said, 'Welcome, brother. Welcome to the family.' That was a special moment because at the time, Laker faithful wasn't [fully in on me]," James said.

"A lot of people were saying, 'Well, we might not want LeBron at this point in his career,' and, 'Is he right? Is he going to get us back [to the Finals]?' So to hear from him and get his stamp of approval, it meant a lot. I don't ever question myself, but when it's coming from Kobe, it definitely meant a lot."

James is chasing his fourth ring as he goes up against the Miami Heat, while Bryant has five rings.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.