LeBron’s Lakers pay tribute to Kobe Bryant with style and grace

This past Sunday, August 23, basketball great Kobe Bryant would have turned 42. His life was cut short this past January when the helicopter in which he was traveling with his daughter and seven others crashed in Calabasas, California. He may be gone, but his legacy certainly isn’t going to disappear, and the LA Lakers, where he spent his 20-year NBA career, made sure to keep him alive as they played a game against the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday. By the time the contest was over, it was apparent that the Lakers went above and beyond in order to memorialize their fallen teammate. 

 lebrons-lakers-pay-tribute-to-kobe-bryant-with-style-and-graceThis was Game 4 of the Round 1 series between the two teams, and the Lakers have only lost one of the games so far – they certainly weren’t going to allow another defeat as they took the court and paid homage to the five-time NBA champion. From the first tip-off, the Lakers grabbed control of the game and never let go. They got off to a 15-0 start and, at one point in the first quarter, were probably a little stunned when they looked at the scoreboard and saw the tally. They were up 24-8, which happened to be the two numbers worn by Bryant during his long career with the team. 

LeBron James was a driving force for the team’s success, sinking 30 points and getting ten assists in the 28 minutes he was in the action. One of his baskets was a massive fader from well beyond the paint that sailed through the air and through the net. It’s impossible to know what he was thinking at that exact moment, but it’s likely he dedicated the shot to Bryant and his legacy. 

Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma were ready to make statements of their own, as well, adding 18 points as the Lakers would ultimately walk away with a 135-115 trampling of the Trail Blazers on what had officially been dubbed Kobe Bryant Day. The team showed no mercy from start to finish, while Portland could only scramble and try, unsuccessfully, to catch up. It was an exercise in futility from the start. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had said before the game, “We all know that [Bryant] would want us to keep our foot on the gas even though we won two in a row. That’s what we’re going to try to approach this game as.” And, that’s exactly what they did. 

The Lakers wore special jerseys, specifically designed to honor the man affectionately known as the Black Mamba, the man who won 13 playoff series out of 16. The uniforms were also outfitted with hearts that featured the number two, the number Bryant’s daughter, Gianna, wore on her uniform as a rising basketball star who had made a name for herself on the courts as Gianna Bryant – not as Kobe Bryant’s daughter. 

At one point, the Lakers were up 80-51, the most points scored in a half during the NBA playoffs in four years. Everything the team did showed their respect and gratitude for one of the greatest basketball players to have ever lived, and Vogel said after the game, “The emotional aspect did feel different than any other game we played since we’ve been in the bubble. Obviously, Kobe is dearly missed, and to have a game on 8/24 … All of us in our whole organization, particularly our players, felt that and carried that emotion on to the playing court.”