Ice Cube: L.A. Would "Never" Love LeBron More Than Kobe

Even if LeBron James brought a title to Los Angeles, his Laker legacy wouldn't compare to Bryant's

Tiki and Tierney
June 08, 2018 - 5:45 am

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With the NBA Finals all but over, chatter has shifted to LeBron James’ impending free agency. While conventional wisdom says James should stay in the Eastern Conference, the Lakers are a legitimate destination, especially if Paul George or another star comes with him to L.A.

BIG3 founder and lifelong Lakers fan Ice Cube has mixed feelings about that.

“You just never know which way things are going to tilt for your younger players,” he said on Tiki and Tierney. “Can they handle a superstar like LeBron taking up all the air and the oxygen in the room? How would they develop as a team? I’m kind of more excited to see how these guys play with each other next year, to be honest, than to kind of just insert two superstars into what we got. Maybe one of them. Maybe one guy, but not two. It never works for the Lakers when they insert two big-time players at the same time. There’s so much history that any superstar has to come in and fight – and they can’t fight the history and another superstar. It’s just gridlock.”

If the Lakers do lure LeBron to Los Angeles, they may get two or three or four great seasons out of him. But they may sacrifice the ensuing five or six.

“I believe the Lakers need to change their philosophy of, ‘Let’s just get a big name and figure it out from there,’” Ice Cube said. “We got to (do) what the Spurs do and develop our talent from the inside-out and not always look for somebody to come save from the outside. That’s really, to me, the culture change that has to happen for the Lakers to stay relevant for years to come.”

If James came to Los Angeles and won a championship, Ice Cube believes Laker fans would “love the hell out of him.” But they would “never” love him as much as Kobe Bryant.

“Never,” Ice Cube said. “Never. Never. It’s like Jerry West, Kareem, Magic, Kobe – even Wilt – are in a whole other stratosphere when it comes to Laker love.”

And that, more than anything, is why Tiki Barber doubts that James would go to Los Angeles. James cares a great deal about his legacy. Why go somewhere and be the fifth or sixth or seventh banana in all-time Laker lore? James wants to be king.

“He will be for the time he plays,” Ice Cube said, “and if he wins a championship, they’ll treat him like a king, no doubt. The legacy could be going to three different franchises and winning a championship. That’s big-time.”

Still, Ice Cube doesn’t want to mortgage the future for one or two runs at a title.

“Man, who wouldn’t want a chip?” he said. “I just want to make sure our young players develop because I don’t want to get to the championship and then run into the same issues that Cleveland is right now. We don’t want to just get there. I don’t want to just get there. I’d rather keep building than get to the championship and lose it. I don’t want to lose it.”