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Lakers Attribute NBA Finals Win to Kobe

By Matteo Herrera 

An NBA season unlike any other, has come to an end. 

The Los Angeles Lakers are champions once again. LeBron James scored 28 points, 14 rebounds, and ten assists to beat the Miami Heat, 106-93 in game six to clinch the organization’s 17th NBA title, tying the record.

“I want my damn respect too,” said LeBron James in a postgame interview with ESPN.

The last time the Lakers won the Larry O’Brien Trophy was with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol leading the franchise to a second straight championship a decade ago.

Since tipoff, Los Angeles took control of the ball game, having a 10-0 run in the first quarter against a tired Miami Heat team. Miami wasn’t able to fight their way back into the game; they were outscored 36-16 in the second quarter. The Lakers had a 28-point halftime lead. It was the second-largest in NBA Finals history.

Heat player Goran Dragic made a surprise return in game six after missing the other Finals games due to a torn plantar fascia. He was seen crying before round 5 of the NBA finals in the shootaround because he couldn’t play. He was only able to score five points with five rebounds off of 19 minutes from the bench. Fellow Heat teammate Bam Adebayo scored 25 points, ten rebounds, five assists, and two blocks, who also sustained an injury in game one of the finals suffering a left shoulder strain and a neck strain. Jimmy Butler, however, wasn’t able to play hero as he has been throughout the finals. He ended the game with 12 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. 

Jimmy Butler became the first player to outscore, outbound, and out-assist LeBron James in an NBA Finals game, including James teammates throughout the years. In game three, the All-star forward scored 40 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds. His 40-point triple-double was only the third in Finals history. He scored 26 points in the paint in game 3; only Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James scored more in the paint during a Finals game in the last 20 years. Butler and the Heat were also able to stop the Lakers in round five, while Los Angeles wore the Kobe Bryant dedicated Black Mamba jerseys. The Lakers have been undefeated throughout the playoffs while wearing the jerseys. 

“You’re hearing how they’re putting the black jerseys on and how they haven’t lost a game in those, and people start talking about it, that is motivation, and it’s always going to get under your skin a little bit,” said Miami Heat player Jae Crowder on Yahoo Sports’. 

On the other side, LeBron James surpassed John Stockton for 2nd-most playoff assists in NBA playoff history during the Finals series. He was also awarded his first Wheaties box alongside his I Promise School students. After game six, LeBron became the NBA’s all-time leader in playoff games played with 260 games. With the NBA Championship, LeBron James is the unanimous winner of the 2020 Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award, earning his fourth in his career. James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists during the Finals series. 

“When we put those jerseys on, we for sure play with extra energy and effort, because we know we can’t lose in those jerseys, if we lose in those jerseys, we feel like we’re letting him down,” said Lakers player Anthony Davis interviewed by Sportscenter speaking about the Black Mamba jerseys honoring Kobe Bryant. 

The Lakers championship run had a solemn start to the year 2020 due to the tragic death of Kobe Bryant on January 26th in a helicopter crash that killed him, his daughter Gigi, and others in Los Angeles. The Lakers held a pregame ceremony to honor Bryant’s death before their first game back since the tragedy. They held a moment of silence, then LeBron James had some words, “in the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba Out,’ but in terms of us, ‘Not Forgotten,’ live on brother,” to the Los Angeles crowd attending the ceremony. 

There were multiple reminders of Kobe throughout their season, starting with James replicating Kobe’s windmill dunk. They look identical in this move. LeBron wore a Bryant jersey on his way to game four of round one against the Portland Trailblazers on Monday, Aug. 24, celebrating Mamba day 8/24. He wore the number 24 on his finger wrap and the number 24 and eight on his shoe. In that game, the Lakers had a 24-8 lead in the first quarter. In round two of the Western Conference Finals, Anthony Davis hits a game-winning shot while wearing the Kobe 5 shoes, wearing the black Mamba jersey, and after knocking the game-winner, A.D. screamed, “Kobe!” 

“Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him, we didn’t let him down,” said Anthony Davis post-game interview of game six of the finals, “I know he is looking down on us proud of us, I know Vanessa Bryant is proud of us, the organization is proud of us, it means a lot to us.”

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