After the Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th championship on Sunday, head coach Frank Vogel said that the team had "a PhD in adversity." They were in China when Daryl Morey's infamous tweet about Hong Kong was sent. LeBron James reportedly wanted to leave the Orlando bubble after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play in a playoff game against the Orlando Magic. By far, though, the worst tragedy they faced this season was the death of team legend Kobe Bryant.
Bryant was killed in a January helicopter accident, and the NBA postponed their first game afterward to give the team time to grieve. They eventually wore jersey patches in Bryant's honor, and prior to their Game 5 loss in the Finals, went undefeated wearing the Black Mamba uniforms he helped design. Bryant's memory has been a motivating force for the Lakers since January, and when they finally won the 2020 championship on Sunday, Anthony Davis was sure to speak up about Bryant's impact on the team.
"Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him," Davis said. "We didn't let him down. It would've been great to do it last game in his jerseys, but it made us come out even more aggressive, even more powerful on both ends of the floor to make sure we closed it out tonight. I know he's looking down on us proud of us. I know Vanessa's proud of us, the organization's proud of us. It means a lot to us. It's a tough moment, man. He was a big brother to all of us."
The basketball world is still grieving Bryant's death, but he would have been proud of the way the Lakers played in the postseason. His basketball philosophy was simple: Winning is all that matters. The Lakers did that on the league's biggest stage, and for the first time since Bryant's 2010 team, they are NBA champions.