When Kobe and LeBron joined forces for the 2008 "Redeem Team," Bryant already had 12 seasons, 3 championships and an 81-point game under his belt. James was only 5 seasons in and had yet to win an NBA title. The two legends had differing styles and didn't always see eye to eye in Beijing, but they brought back glory and Olympic gold to Team USA Basketball after its disappointing performance in 2004. Kobe and LeBron had always shared the bond of both going pro at age 18 and both being GOAT contenders, but their connection would run much deeper once King James became a Laker. His heartfelt tribute after Bryant's death (click here to watch) tells you everything there is to know about their mutual respect and admiration.
"Kobe is a brother to me," James said. "From the time I was in high school, watching him from afar, to getting in this league at 18, watching him up close. All of the battles that we had throughout my career. The one thing that we always shared was that determination to just want to win, and just want to be great. And the fact that I'm here now means so much to me...In the words of Kobe Bryant, 'Mamba Out,' but in the words of us, 'Not Forgotten.'"
This is the first dual-signed Kobe/LeBron piece that we've had the pleasure to offer—and it's a beauty. The nicely scripted, red-ink "8-9" signatures appear atop the brim of a NM hat with the Five Rings logo and "USA / BEIJING 2008" on front, and then "USA HOUSE / BEIJING CHINA / 08.08.08" on the back. Our consignor tells us that his brother-in-law and nephew worked for NBC and were transporting Kobe and LeBron in a golf cart from a Bob Costas interview at NBC Studios over to a hospitality event at Olympic Park. En route, the Olympians asked for a brief tour, and when they were recognized and followed by a crowd as the golf cart passed by the swimming venue, our consignor's nephew sped up for a quick getaway. In gratitude, Bryant and James happily obliged to sign the exclusive USA Olympic House hat at the same time with the same pen. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.