The one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant's untimely death on Jan. 26 is approaching, and that's causing fans and players alike to reflect on the late Los Angeles Lakers legend. Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James took a moment to reflect on Bryant's immense legacy following L.A.'s 101-90 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
"Us being able to remember him and wear the [Black Mamba] jerseys during the postseason and have the postseason success we had, as you guys saw with those uniforms. We got a lot of guys that wear his shoes still to this day," James said of Bryant's legacy.
"I'm able to wear the 2-4 on my finger every night, and the when we play at Staples Center you see that 8 and 24 in the rafters and be able to just live his legacy on. There's a lot of things that die in the world, but legends never die, and he's exactly that. So, it's all about representing him."
"As we approach his one-year anniversary, it saddens our hearts to actually come to the realization that he's gone," Lakers forward Anthony Davis added, via ESPN. "I know I still have trouble with it, you still just can't believe it... To this day, it's, 'Mamba on three!' anytime we bring it in because we still want to recognize that he's a part of our organization. And ever since the tragedy happened, we had a mindset that this is bigger than, you know, ourselves."
Davis was obviously well aware of how well revered Bryant was in the NBA, but only since his passing did Davis come to understand the full breadth of Bryant's global influence.
"I didn't know, and I know he was very, very known and popular, but I didn't know he impacted so many people's lives outside of basketball," Davis said. "From soccer, to football, to players overseas, to people who don't even play sports, they're always talking about the 'Mamba Mentality.' I didn't know how impactful he was worldwide. ... I just didn't realize how many people he impacted worldwide that's outside the basketball community."
Bryant's unexpected death had a deep impact on the entire basketball world, but it hit the Lakers especially hard given how close he was to the organization, and those inside it, after he spent 20 seasons with the team. James was deeply impacted, as he and Bryant had established a deep kinship over the course of their careers. James was one of the last people to speak to Bryant, as the two spoke on the phone the morning of Jan, 26, and Bryant's final Tweet is a message congratulating James for passing him on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
The Lakers don't plan to commemorate the anniversary of Bryant's death, which is understandable, as they don't want to draw added attention to the tragedy. They don't need to do anything anyway. Bryant will never be forgotten, and as James said, his legacy will continue to live on through the millions of players and fans that he impacted.