Kobe Bryant
Photo: New York Times

Former NBA star Julius Erving loves Kobe Bryant and even played with the Mamba’s father … but he tells TMZ Sports the NBA shouldn’t retire the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s numbers league-wide as it did with Bill Russell earlier this summer.

“I don’t think he should be compared with the Russell situation,” Erving said of Kobe out at LAX. “We’re fresh into that but let’s see how that works out. Maybe at some point in time. Bill was 86 years old, so address it like that to an 86-year-old – multiple champions, multiple coaching champions, multiple on-and-off the court champion, or whatever – there’s no comparison.”