LeBron James was watching the Lakers play Memphis last week when Kobe Bryant suffered a left knee fracture.
"I saw exactly when it happened and I didn't think he was gong to return to that game when it happened, but he did, so I didn't think too much more about it until I saw the news the next day," James said. "There's a few guys in our league who can come back from anything, and obviously he's one of them."
Bryant, who is expected to be sidelined with the injury for about six weeks, missed Wednesday's Christmas Day game against Miami, a 101-95 loss for the Lakers.
James said that the league took a hit with Bryant's latest injury.
"We understand how historic the franchise is and, the Lakers, what they mean to the league," James said. "When you take the best player of the franchise off their team, it speaks volumes. He's meant so much to the league since he got here in '96, and his five championships, and the rest of his resume, what he's been able to do for this league and this city, it means a lot. Especially games like today, and marquee games, you definitely want to have the best players out there. It's unfortunate that injuries will keep some guys out."
James, who has led the Heat to back-to-back championships, said that he has always wanted to face Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, in the Finals.
"It would have definitely been great," he said. "I think I wanted it, I think he wanted it. I didn't do my part one year, we lost in Orlando in the conference finals, so I didn't do my part to meet him there. And I'm not quite sure what happened in '07 with the Lakers, but I ended up facing San Antonio. It would definitely be great to go against him in the Finals, but it never happened, and I don't know if it will happen or it won't."
James played alongside Bryant during the Summer Olympics in Beijing and London. He was deeply impressed by the Lakers superstar in 2012.
"That was 37 days and that went like it was three days, but we all know that he's one of the greatest competitors that we've seen," James said. "He has five championships ... his resume is ... a lotta people would love to have that."
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