There could not have been a more storybook ending to the NBA season than this. After a decade-long drought the Los Angeles Lakers are NBA Champions once more. LeBron James fulfilled his promise in bringing a championship back to the city. The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat on Sunday night to win the franchise’s 17th Championship. They have now tied the Boston Celtics with the highest number of titles with 17 championship wins each. There are a few story arcs that this win has satisfied. The first of which is Rajon Rondo who made history, winning a title with both the Celtics and Lakers. It has a been a long journey for Dwight Howard who joined the Lakers in 2012 for a stint. Though it did not work out the first time around and he bounced around the league for a few years, his perseverance paid off and he is finally a champion. Anthony Davis, after demanding a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, went on to play some incredible post-season basketball and win his first NBA title. Then of course there is the reason that all of this came together the way it did, LeBron James. In his 17th season, LeBron James clinched his 4th NBA Title and 4th Finals MVP. That is 4 titles and 4 MVPs on 3 different teams as a leader and game-changer as the best player on the team.
This year has been marred by tragedy and bad news. The NBA and WNBA lost one of its greatest players and biggest champions in Kobe Bryant. He just loved the game. The final posts that Bryant shared on social media platforms were congratulatory to James. Captioned under a photo of the two of them Bryant said, “On to #2 @kingjames! Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next.”
James talked about why the Laker legacy was so important to preserve and winning it for Bryant became a team goal. “We got as close as you possibly can be, when that moment happened,” James said of the team after Kobe died. “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.’”
Everyone in the Lakers organization expressed how much this title means to them in the wake of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna’s passing. Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said, “Kobe and Gianna have guided this team the entire year. Kobe’s voice is always in my head, always, every day, every minute.”
“For Kobe, I know he’s looking down on us super proud,” Davis said. “When we brought out the Mamba jerseys we had a different swag. We didn’t go undefeated. But I know he would rather take this championship than a loss in a Mamba jersey. We miss him. This is definitely for him.”