Kobe Bryant became synonymous with the Lakers after he was drafted in 1996. The man gave all he could in his two decades of service to the organization. Although he is no more, he wouldn’t have been undoubtedly proud of the Lakers’ for winning their record-equalling 17th NBA Championship.
It must have been a heartbreaking moment for Lakers fans when the franchise lost against the Miami Heat in Game 5 after donning a Mamba jersey. If that game proved anything, it was that while the jersey might get defeated, the Mamba mentality instilled within the Lakers’ DNA never will. It must have been an incredibly emotional moment when the Lakers won 106-93 and most folks looked up in the sky to say, ‘thank you Kobe’!
The VP of the Lakers organization, Rob Pelinka, talks about Kobe
In an interview held after the series win, Rob spoke about Kobe and said:
“There would be times in the middle of the night I will hear his voice. ‘Stay the course, finish the task.’ To be able to have a friend who changed my life and helped me understand what greatness was about and sacrifice was about, there’s not many greater gifts. To be able to share this moment right now, knowing that he and Gianna are looking down from heaven. I know he is a proud friend, I know he is. When I took the job, I remember he told me ‘Hey! I know what you did for me for 20 years.’ He said ‘I give you 2-3 years, you’ll fix this, you’ll get the Lakers back on top’. I guess you were right man, you gave me the energy to do it.”
“To be able to share this moment right now, knowing he and Gianna are looking down from heaven …”
Rob Pelinka spoke from the heart about about Kobe Bryant. #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/C9KR5kGmU0
— ESPN (@espn) October 12, 2020
Such was the power that Kobe Bryant would inject into everyone close to him, personally or professionally. A huge load went off the shoulders of the organization as they gave Kobe the best tribute they possibly could.
How badly did Kobe Bryant want to win with his beloved franchise?
Until 2010, Kobe had a tremendously successful first decade with the Lakers but an equally devastating second. He pushed the Lakers to win five titles with him after which they reached their saturation point. From 2014 to 2016, the Lakers probably saw their worst three years. In those three seasons, they won 65/346 games at a W% of 26.4. Their nadir came in 2016 when they had a 17-65 record.
The Black Mamba still remained tied to the franchise and never considered leaving it for other lucrative offers that might have come his way. He was a true Laker at heart. Even after retirement, he continued coming to games, praising new joinees, and helping the organization however he could.
It was but natural for the franchise to dedicate this 2020 Championship win to him and call it his ‘sixth’.