Another year, another championship. While it has been 10 years since the Los Angeles Lakers won a title, the illustrious franchise won their 17th championship on Sunday night.
LeBron James and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 to become the 2020 NBA Champions. The Lakers closed out the series 4-2 after the Heat won Games 3 and 5.
The NBA's bubble was a unique experience that I admittedly was skeptical about when it was announced. The bubble was an isolation zone at Disney, where the players would remain until the end of the season. The NBA used this as a tactic to prevent COVID-19 cases so that they can continue their season. I was unsure of how successful it would be, but the league proved me wrong and carried on with a successful ending to their regular season as well as a successful playoffs. With competitive games and zero positive COVID-19 tests, the NBA season was a success. And it ended with a meaningful championship.
Earlier this year, the sports world was stunned by the death of former Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant. The Bryants were two of nine people involved in the horrific crash. Alyssa Altobelli (one of Gianna's teammates) and her parents, Christina Mauser (a basketball coach), Payton Chester (another teammate of Gianna) and her mom, and Ara Zobayan (the pilot) were also in the helicopter.
When I heard the news, I was stunned and at a loss for words. It was as if I could believe it. Bryant's death made an impact on me. It saddened me, but it also inspired me to incorporate Bryant's renowned "Mamba Mentality" into how I approach my goals. All of us in the sports world felt the loss in some way, shape, or form, and NBA players (including LeBron James) made sure to pay tribute to Bryant throughout the season. But to a champion like Kobe, a championship is the ultimate tribute.
The Lakers kept this in mind as they went through the finals.
After the Lakers won the finals, their star forward Anthony Davis spoke on Bryant and how this year's championship is for him.
"Kobe, I know he's looking down on us super proud," Lakers star forward Davis said. "We miss him, and this is definitely for him."
"He would come to the game and just tell us, 'This is y'all year. This is y'all year. Go out and take it,'" Davis said. "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."
Davis' words echoed throughout the Laker organization, as Rob Pelinka, their Vice President and General Manager, said Bryant guided the team throughout the season. Pelinka had a special bond with Bryant as he was a close friend, his former agent, and the godfather of Gianna.
"I think Kobe and Gianna have guided this team the entire year," Pelinka said. "Kobe's voice is always in my head. Always, every day, every minute."
In what was a strange NBA season, it is safe to say it ended on a good note. From the passing of former NBA commissioner David Stern, Bryant's passing a month later, the season ending in March due to COVID-19, and playing in the bubble, it was an unbelievable season. And the icing on the cake? The Lakers doing it for Kobe. This was a great season, and I cannot wait until next year.