Lakers’ Jared Dudley Reveals How Kobe Bryant’s Passing Added Pressure to Win 2020 Championship

Published 01/28/2021, 12:30 PM EST
During the National Anthem Lakers Kobe Bryant points to upward honoring Lakers owner Jerry Buss at the Staples Center Wednesday. Dr. Jerry Buss, died Monday of cancer at age 80. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


The passing of Kobe Bryant last year affected millions across the globe. Though everyone deals with loss in their own way, the Los Angeles Lakers were one of the worst affected set of people following his death.

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Not only were they grieving over his loss, but they were also suddenly under pressure to win the title for Kobe. Lakers veteran Jared Dudley recently spoke about that situation.

He said, “From an emotional standpoint, it was a difficult time for us to get through it. Luckily we had a pandemic to either somewhat take your mind off and also hit a reset.

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“Because at this time we’re going to all areas, they’re doing tributes for him, they’re chanting his name. I felt more added pressure for that year to win a championship. You could feel it. People were doing the whispers behind it. We talked about it. And if you don’t think that wouldn’t have played a huge factor, you’d be kidding yourself.”

Lakers overcome the pressure; win it for Kobe Bryant

The Lakers lost the first game they played after hearing this news. It was a Staples Center encounter with conference rivals Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard dropped 48 points as the Lakers lost 119-127. But in their next 16 games, they lost just thrice before the season was suspended.

As the playoffs started, they announced they would bring back the Black Mamba jerseys. Kobe had helped design it back in 2017, and so they brought it back as a tribute to him. They wore it five times during the playoffs and lost just once.

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They faced the Trail Blazers in the first round. After losing Game 1, they won four in a row to advance to the second round. It was the first time they won a playoff series since 2012. They faced the Rockets next, who were put away in a similar fashion. The Nuggets weren’t spared either, as the Lakers won 4-1 for the third series in a row.

Just one stage away from glory, the Lakers were up against the Heat. They took an extra game this time, but after six games, the Lakers were crowned champions for the first time in a decade. They successfully overcame the pressure and honored Kobe in the best possible way by dedicating their title win to him.

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Aaron Mathew

1666 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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