LeBron James and Anthony Davis both paid glowing tributes to Kobe Bryant after beating the Miami Heat on Sunday in Orlando to end the Los Angeles Lakers’ decade-long wait for a 17th NBA title.
The Lakers won 106-93 to seal a 4-2 series victory with James named the Finals MVP after posting a triple double – scoring 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists – with the win tying the franchise with the Boston Celtics for most NBA championships.
Bryant, who helped win five of those rings, sadly passed away earlier this year in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna, and the Lakers players were spurred on to claim the title in his memory.
The Lakers have worn ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys this season in honour of Bryant, winning the first four play-off matches they competed in it, but lost game five of the finals in the strip and were desperate to make up for it.
‘Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted is to do it for him, and we didn’t let him down,’ said Davis, who scored 19 points in the series-clinching victory.
‘It would have been great to do it last game in his jerseys, but it made us come down even more aggressive, even more powerful on both ends of the floor, to make sure we close it down tonight.
‘I know he’s looking down on us proud of us. I know Vanessa [Bryant] is proud of us, the organisation is proud of us. It means a lot to us.
‘It’s a tough moment, man. He was a big brother to all of us. We did this for him.’
LeBron echoed those words, saying: ‘If we weren’t already as close as we could be, that made us even closer. We got as close as you possibly can be, when that moment happened.
‘Obviously we know 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.”’
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