Julius Erving loves Kobe Bryantand even played with the Mamba's father ... but he tells TMZ Sports the NBA shouldn't retire the Lakers legend's numbers league-wide like it did with Bill Russellearlier 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."
"I wouldn't even try to compare Kobe Bryant to Russell."
Instead, Erving said he believes the posthumous honors that Bryant receives should be left up to his former L.A. team.