The Los Angeles Lakers won one of the most challenging NBA championships in history. Playing in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, with no access to the outside world or their families, was a tough ask. Yet the Lakers persevered and beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals and won their 17th NBA championship in franchise history. The significance of this championship is magnified when one considers the year the Lakers have had. In January, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna tragically passed away in a helicopter crash.
Kobe was an icon for the Lakers, winning five NBA Championships with them. The entire basketball world mourned for him. The loss was felt hardest by Laker Nation. The entire season’s motivation for the Lakers became to win a championship to honor Kobe. And they did just that. They had special Mamba jerseys made to pay tribute to Kobe, who’s nickname was ‘Black Mamba’.
Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss spoke to Mike Wise recently. On the topic of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Buss revealed how devastating the loss was. She said, “Some days you just felt like ‘How am I going to get out of bed?’. Basketball felt normal, the community and sharing that love, and knowing that we will protect the Bryant family. We love Vanessa and Kobe’s daughters. The loss of Gianna is devastating on so many levels.”
When the Lakers won the championship, the front office paid tribute to him and spoke about their admiration for Bryant. Rob Pelinka, the Lakers GM, said that Kobe and Gigi were “looking down from heaven”. Pelinka was a close friend of Kobe’s and his agent for many years. Buss, the Lakers President also dedicated the championship to Kobe.
Buss also spoke about how Gianna Bryant inspired her. She said, “When there was a day after Kobe retired, we planned to have lunch… We drove to Orange County to meet him, and he brought Gianna with him because he wanted Gianna to see strong women in business. But he also knew that I was feeling down and lost. I hadn’t made the change with my brother and I think he wanted to cheer me up and show me like ‘you’re inspiring my daughter, and my daughter is going to inspire you to be the best you can be.’… I know what Kobe meant to me, but I didn’t know how generous he was with his time.”
The Lakers will be looking to add more championships to their historic franchise. One thing is for sure; the memory of Kobe Bryant will not go away anytime soon.
Get notified about breaking news and watch highlights on the go; join the Arena on NBA Hoops