Just moments after winning his 4th NBA championship, LeBron James explained how the Lakers became as close as ever to win the 2019-20 title for the late, great Kobe Bryant.
The Los Angeles Lakers‘ fight for the 2019-20 NBA championship was a long, heartfelt journey. But, with one goal in mind — to win the title for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant — LeBron James and the Lakers stayed locked in to “finish the job,” as Kobe always said. LeBron, who was crowned as the bubble’s Finals MVP, reflected on the team’s journey to victory in a post-game interview.
“If we weren’t already as close as we thought we can be, that made us even closer. That brought us even closer. Our ball club, we got as close as you can possibly be when that moment happened,” LeBron told NBA TV after Game 6 about the death of his good friend, Kobe. The NBA icon, who spent his 20-year career with the Lakers, tragically died in a helicopter crash in California on January 26. His daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, who was 13-years-old at the time, died, along with seven others.
LeBron continued, “Obviously, we know it brought the whole basketball world close as well, but when you’re internal and it hits home, it just means that much more and we locked in from that very moment and said, ‘This is bigger than us. This is bigger than us.'”
Fellow Lakers star, Anthony Davis echoed LeBron’s comments after the Lakers closed out the NBA Finals in Game 6. While fighting back tears, he dedicated the Lakers’ championship win to Kobe. “We know he’s looking down on us. I know Vanessa [Bryant] is proud of us, the organization is proud of us,” Davis said. “[Kobe] was a big brother to us. We did this for him.”
On February 24, the city of Los Angeles, with the help of the Lakers organization, held a public memorial for Kobe at Staples Center. His wife Vanessa Bryant, his teammate Shaquille O’Neal, along with Kobe’s good friend Michael Jordan, were among those who gave heartfelt speeches. Four months later at the 2020 ESPYS on June 21, Snoop Dogg honored Kobe in an emotional performance, as well as ESPN, which aired a touching video of his career highlights.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna both perished in a helicopter crash on January 26 — along with seven others including, her basketball teammates Payton Chester and Alyssa Altobelli; Sarah Chester, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser and the pilot Ara Zobayan. The group was on their way to a youth basketball game in Kobe’s Sikorsky S-76 private helicopter when it crashed in the hills of Southern California.
In April, Vanessa and Kobe would’ve celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary. In addition to Gianna, the couple shares daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who turned 1 on June 20. Also in April, Gianna and her two Mamba Academy teammates, Alyssa and Payton were selected as honorary picks during the 2020 WNBA draft. Our thoughts are with the families affected by this tragedy.