The year 2010 marked the last time that the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title with Kobe Bryant hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy at center court. Ten years later, the championship trophy is back, and it was clear that Kobe, even in death, had a major role in this Lakers championship.
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, was definitely watching as she celebrated the victory on Instagram by posting a picture of her husband with Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka, who was also Bryant’s agent and close friend.
In her post, Vanessa Bryant wrote, “Kobe was right RP! ‘Stay the course – blockout the noise,” clearly quoting her late husband. She also noted, “Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”
Pelinka, who was also Gianna’s (Gigi’s) godfather, reminisced about lessons he had learned from Kobe and how the Lakers legend had told him the Lakers’ return to the top would happen soon. “Guess you were right, man,” Pelinka said while looking up. “You gave me the energy to do it.”
The Lakers GM also discussed how this only adds to the legacy Kobe Bryant leaves behind. “Kobe and Gianna’s legacy will last forever. It will impact lives around the world in positive ways, and this Lakers championship in 2020 is partly to build on that legacy and honor them,” Pelinka said. “The moment couldn’t be any more special to do that for them.”
Lakers players were also quick to pay tribute to the five-time champion. Anthony Davis said, “Kobe, I know he’s looking down on us super proud. We miss him, and this is definitely for him. Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted is to do it for him, and we didn’t let him down.”
LeBron James talked about the moments after the team first heard about the helicopter crash. “Our ball club, we got as close as you possibly can be when that moment happened, and 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, saying, ‘This is bigger than us, this is bigger than us.’”