The LA Lakers paid tribute to its late Legend Kobe Bryant and one the Basketball GOATS after clinching their first NBA title in a decade. 5-time NBA Champ, Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year in January alongside his 13-year old daughter Gianna and seven others on board. The one-team-man spent all his NBC career with Los Angeles team and guided the franchise through its last NBA title in 2010.
“Kobe, I know he is looking down on us super proud,” said froward Anthony Davis of La Lakers.
“We miss him, and this is definitely for him.”
The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat 106-93 with a little trouble, recording a 4-2 series win to tie with Boston Celtics for the most NBA Championships at 17.
The power forward added: “He had a lot of confidence in our team. He had a lot of confidence in our organization to go out there and win it this year.”
On a number of occasions during the play-offs, the Lakers competed in “Black Mamba” jerseys to remember the legendary shooting guard with his self-styled nickname. Before their defeat in game five of the finals, Lakers had bagged wins in all of their four play-off games they were styled wearing the Mamba strip which was co-designed by 18-time All Star himself and released in 2017.
“I think Kobe and Gianna have guided this team the entire year,” said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.
“Kobe’s voice is always in my head, always, every day, every minute. For us to be able to win this championship doesn’t take away the sting of the loss, but what it does is it helps us add to their legacy.
“Kobe and Gianna’s legacy will last forever. It will impact lives around the world in positive ways, and this Lakers championship in 2020 is partly to build on that legacy and honor them. The moment couldn’t be any more special to do that for them.
“There would be times in my hotel room here – when you’re in a bubble for 100 days, it’s tough – there would be times in the middle of the night, I would hear his voice: ‘Stay the course. Finish the task.’
“He said, ‘I’ll give you two, three years, you’ll fix this. You’ll get the Lakers back on top’.”
Looking into the skies, the GM added: “I guess you were right, man. You gave me the energy to do it.” Bryant’s widow Vanessa took to Insta to post a tribute to the Lakers with a photo of her late husband with Pelinka.
“Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this,” she wrote.
Following the Lakers’ win, fans took the streets of Los Angeles in celebration flouting COVID-19 guidelines. Many among the crowds donned number #8 and #24 shirts as well as face masks and jackets printed with the face of the iconic Lakers guard. His name was changed and photos were taken by a giant mural of Bryant and his late daughter.
“Winning for Kobe has been in my mind for a while,” Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo said.
“To be able to compete with Kobe, understand and learn so much from him by watching his film and by studying him, it’s definitely an honor.
“And to come full circle to win in his honor, his daughter’s honor, unbelievable season that we’ve had. And to be able to prevail and stay focused and continue to get the job done, I know he’s definitely smiling down on us.”