LeBron on Kobe: “I wanted to be just like him”

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James says Kobe Bryant inspired him to greatness and he was ''kind of sad'' when he learned the Lakers star is retiring.

James spent much of his interview session Tuesday praising Bryant, who announced on Sunday that his 20th NBA season will be his last. James, who had posters of Bryant on his wall as a kid, said he was always motivated by his former Olympic teammate.

James said he even wore an afro when he was in high school so he could look like Bryant.

James says: ''I wanted to be just like him, man.''

James said he regrets not holding ''up my end of the bargain'' and getting to the NBA Finals in 2009, when fans were clamoring for a matchup between the two All-Stars.

James says he ''always thought of Kobe'' during offseason workouts and pushed himself harder because he knew Bryant was in a gym somewhere.