James shared a message on his social media Wednesday, saying: “Hope [I] made you proud my brother!! Love and miss you Champ!” Bryant passed away tragically in January in a helicopter accident along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
LeBron James Always Thinking About Kobe Bryant’s Legacy
James helped the Lakers secure their 17th title on Sunday, adding to the collection that Bryant added five trophies to during his 20-plus year run in purple and gold.
The championship journey by James and the Lakers would have been something that Bryant appreciated, overcoming the adversity of playing in the bubble and having life be strictly about basketball for three-plus months.
“I mean, every time you put on purple and gold, you think about his legacy,” James told reporters of Bryant in September. “You think about him and about what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years, and what he stood for both on the floor and off the floor. What he demanded out of his teammates and what he demanded out of himself. We have some similarities in that sense.”
Lakers Wanted to Win Title For Kobe Bryant
The Lakers made it no secret that they were driven by the sentiment that this championship would be in Kobe’s memory. The team was bummed out when they were unable to clinch the title in Game 5 against the Heat, wearing the “Mamba” jerseys they were previously undefeated in.
“We wanted to win it in the Mamba jerseys so bad, we just didn’t do it but this was for Kobe (Bryant) regardless of what jersey we had on,” Lakers forward Markieff Morris said. “We knew we had to do this for Kobe and Gigi (Gianna Bryant) and the rest of the Lakers nation, man. This was a special one.”
After eventually clinching the title with a dominant Game 6 performance, Lakers star Anthony Davis knew Kobe was looking down proud of their effort.
“Before the tragedy, 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.’ He had a lot of confidence in our team,” Davis said. “He had a lot of confidence in our organization to go out there and win it this year. When we brought out the Mamba jerseys, we had a different swag. It sucks that we didn’t go undefeated [in the Mamba jerseys], but I know he would rather take this championship than a loss in a Mamba jersey. We miss him, and this is definitely for him.”
The championship parade is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when it does happen, expect Bryant to be honored in a big way.