photo via Anthony Davis' Instagram
After 10 years, the Los Angeles Lakers are NBA champions. It is the franchise’s 17th championship and is most definitely one of the most unique titles in history. The season already had lots of meaning for many Lakers fans with the death of one of the most beloved athletes in sports, Kobe Bryant. Then, the coronavirus pandemic halted all sports leagues across the world between March and April, including the NBA. Thus the 2020 NBA season was up in the air.
On January 26, the Lakers’ record was 41 wins and 10 losses when a tragedy rocked the entire world of sports. On this day, Laker legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died with him along with seven others. The tragedy left many in utter shock as many saw Bryant as an icon.
Students and teachers were devastated by the tragedy. “Kobe Bryant was, and still is my favorite player of all time. He was the reason why I started watching and playing basketball, wanting to play like him. When he died, it was like a shock because he seemed like an immortal superhero,” said Andrew Rodriguez, a senior. Families who witnessed the rise and fall of Kobe Bryant were in disbelief on the day of the crash. Many Lakers fans witnessed the Black Mamba’s greatness since he entered the league. So when hearing about his death, these long-time fans went through many emotions. “Not to compare it with 9/11; but in both instances, I could tell you where I was on that day and how I felt…Watching him since I was 9 until the age of 29, I was able to follow his whole career and felt like I grew up with him since I was able to watch him grow. His passing hurt and made me realize how much he meant to me and my family…it just makes you want to live life, be a better father, and be better each day,¨ said Diego Romero, uncle to David Lopez Jr, a junior and reporter for the Wolfpack Times.
As epic and dominant as Kobe was on the court, he was still the same off the court as a family man of a wife and three girls, as the author of The Wizenard Series, and as a mentor for his daughter Gigi and her basketball team, who, before her death, was as fascinated of basketball as Kobe was. “I still get teary-eyed and sad just thinking about his passing. He had so much more to give as a parent, a Hall of Famer, and an Oscar winner. Who knows how great Gigi would’ve been in the WNBA under his wing? Kobe touched so many lives, and with that, he will forever be missed but never forgotten,¨ said David Lopez Sr., father to David Lopez Jr.
Kobe was a father, a businessman, and a great role model for his daughter Gigi. He taught her, along with many WNBA stars and young female basketball athletes, the different aspects, the art to the game of basketball. He pushed his daughter and the other young athletes on what it means to be great, and is a true inspiration as to what it means to be great on the court, and off the court by gaining many accolades within the beginning stages of his retirement.
MACES students as well as teachers were also in disbelief after the death of the Laker legend. He was somebody that meant a lot to so many. ¨It still makes me sad whenever I stop and think about how he died with his daughter doing something his daughter loved,¨ said Israel Bautista, a history teacher. Students were also impacted heavily as Bryant was someone they looked up too. ¨He always came back from injury, an assassin able to control the game and clutch up in the last seconds of the game. When he died it was like a family member passed away, he was always someone I looked up to,¨ Rodriguez said.
The Lakers winning this championship meant everything to the city of L.A., with parades and praises around Staples Center after the win. Fans also enjoyed the win, maybe not as much as the other championship W’s, but the fact that it’s the Lakers and they won for Kobe Bryant made it special. ¨Obviously as a Laker fan, I was happy and proud of the team. The Lakers are tied for most all-time. And it also added to legendary duos the Lakers have always had. The bitter side of it for me is Kobe not being around…Overall it was more good than bad. Just wasn’t the same as previous,¨ said Diego Romero, uncle to David Lopez Jr.
This title win meant that now the Lakers are tied with their east coast rival: the Boston Celtics. The Boston Celtics got their 17th championship back in 2008 with a great lineup of stars and veterans, and the Lakers went up against them in the finals in 2010 and won their 16th title. Fans just wish that Kobe was still alive to witness a great win against the Heat to win that 17th championship. ¨I’m surprised it went 6 games with all the talent they have. But, they got it done, and I wish Kobe was there to see these guys win. Kobe would’ve been proud¨, says David Lopez Sr., father to David Lopez Jr. It was surprising to see the Lakers go to Game 6 since the Lakers had a top-tier duo with Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Nevertheless, they fought to keep that series lead up, and they ended up winning Sunday night, with Lebron winning the finals MVP.
The Lakers were able to honor the legend by capping off their season with the NBA championship. Bryant won five championships with the Lakers and it was only fitting that this team would win championship number 17 on the year he passed. The Lakers sit as favorites to win the NBA championship next season even though there are some doubts, such as star forward Anthony Davis being a free agent. However, the future of the team looks very bright, with superstars and a young core it seems the Lakers will be in championship title contention for years to come, just like Kobe Bryant would’ve liked. The NBA postseason concludes with lots of “OOOOHs” and “AHHHHs” from proud Laker Nation members. Thanks to and for the greatest, Kobe “Bean/ Black Mamba/ the GOAT” Bryant.