Once again, the Los Angeles Lakers are the champions of the NBA. For the 17th time. LeBron James and company were not messing round in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Sunday night against Miami, playing stifling defense and steamrolling the Heat 106-93, officially ending their three-plus-month-long stay in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando.
It’s the first title in 10 years for the Lakers franchise, and even though fans were told by city officials to stay out of downtown Los Angeles and enjoy the celebration at home, thousands of fans ignored the plea and headed to L.A. Live in downtown. James recorded a triple-double in the clinching game, with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and was named Finals MVP for the fourth time.
But as soon as the final buzzer rang out, fans in downtown L.A. were chanting the name of their favorite Laker, whose spirit lives on with this team in an indelible way: “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” The emotions of fans who loved Kobe Bryant are still raw, 10 months after his death.
LeBron will find out he might be the King of the NBA, but not in Los Angeles. It’s still Kobe’s franchise, and thousands of Laker fans were as excited about celebrating the win for Kobe as they were for themselves.
“I think Kobe and Gianna have guided this team the entire year,” Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “Kobe’s voice is in my head. Always. Every day. Every minute. And I think to be able to — for LeBron and AD and Vogel and myself and Jeanie [Buss], for us to be able to win this championship doesn’t take away the sting of the loss. But it helps us add to their legacy. Their legacy will last forever. It will impact lives around the world in positive ways.”