Kobe Bryant's influence on this Los Angeles Lakers playoff run has been evident from the start. In Game 4 of their first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, while wearing the Black Mamba uniforms that he helped design, the Lakers jumped out to an early 24-8 lead. Those are the two uniform numbers Bryant wore for the Lakers. They racked up another win in Mamba gear against the Houston Rockets and attempted to make it 3-0 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets had other plans. Despite trailing by 16, they came back to take the lead with only 2.1 seconds remaining. That is when Anthony Davis, in his first playoff run as a Laker, channeled his inner Mamba and nailed the game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
If that looked to you like the sort of shot Bryant would have made, you're not alone. Frank Vogel made the same connection. He was caught on camera telling his team that Davis' game-winner was a Mamba shot, and expanded on that to reporters during his post-game press conference.
"We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory," Vogel said. "Obviously there's certain games where we're gonna feel it a little more than others, when we have that uniform on, I think we feel it more than others. That's a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. So to me, AD coming off, flying through the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the game on the line in the biggest moment of our season, nothing but net, that's a Mamba shot."
Bryant's ultimate goal was always to win as many championships as possible. Now, thanks to Davis, the Lakers are only six wins away from getting there.