Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa has penned a heartbreaking tribute to the LA Lakers after the organization claimed their 17th NBA title.
The Lakers on Monday were crowned 2019-20 NBA champions following a 106-93 thumping of the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the finals.
It was the first time the Lakers had secured the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy since 2010 after Bryant claimed his fifth title with a series defeat over rivals the Boston Celtics.
This time around for the Lakers it was LeBron James who led the team and was crowned Finals MVP for his efforts.
But for the Bryant family, it was bittersweet as they congratulated the Lakers without Kobe and daughter Gianna being around to celebrate the occasion.
Bryant along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, tragically lost their lives in a helicopter crash back in January.
Although clearly happy for the success of her late husband’s franchise, Vanessa said she simply wished her husband and daughter were still around to witness the moment.
“Kobe was right RP! ‘Stay the course — block out the noise,'” Vanessa wrote on her Instagram story. “Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”
James, who was a long-time rival and close friend of Bryant’s, said the tragedy motivated the team and kept them closer together throughout the season.
“We got as close as you possibly can be, when that moment happened,” James said after the game. “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.'”
Fellow Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, who was famously mentored by Bryant during Team USA’s Olympic campaign back in 2012, said the team wanted nothing more than to win for the NBA legend.
“Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him,” Davis said. “I know he’s looking down on us proud of us. I know Vanessa’s proud of us, the organization’s proud of us. It means a lot to us. It’s a tough moment, man. He was a big brother to all of us. We did this for him.”
James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday night to win the NBA Finals in six games and claim his fourth NBA Finals MVP, three of which were with different teams.
Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the enormous anguish that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from the coronavirus.
It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win. They delivered what Bryant did five times for L.A. — a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.
Game 6 was over by halftime, the Lakers taking a 64-36 lead into the break.
The Heat never led and couldn’t shoot from anywhere: 35 percent from 2-point range in the half, 33 percent from 3-point range and even an uncharacteristic 42 percent from the free-throw line, not like any of it really mattered.
The Lakers were getting everything they wanted and then some, outscoring Miami 36-16 in the second quarter and doing all that with James making just one shot in the period.
Game Six was the 260th of James’ playoff career, lifting him into sole possession of first place on the league’s postseason appearances list.
Game 6 also was the 55th NBA Finals game of James’ career, tying him with Jerry West for fourth-most in league history. Bill Russell played in 70, Sam Jones in 64 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 56.