Globe Live Media, Monday, January 26, 2021
“Man, it’s a saying that time heals everything,” LeBron James said after the Los Angeles Lakers win over Chicago on Saturday.
Still, a year after the sudden death of Kobe Bryant, those who make up the Lakers organization still feel his absence with great intensity. While not enough time has passed to allow James to fully move forward, remembering Bryant and honoring the spirit that made him such a fierce competitor has helped his grieving process.
Several times during last season’s NBA Finals, the Lakers wore their ‘Black Mamba’ jerseys to remember Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who died in a helicopter crash along with seven other people on January 26 of the year. past.
The jerseys were designed by Bryant, who gave himself the nickname ‘Black Mamba’ during his career, and worn for the first time in the 2018 season. The Lakers would win their first Larry O’Brien Trophy since Bryant’s last title. in 2010.After the last season was played in the Disney World bubble, the Lakers are back playing their home games at Staples Center, where the two jerseys with the numbers 8 and 24, which Bryant wore during his 20-year career in the Lakers, they’re hanging from the ceiling.
“As devastating and tragic as it was, and still is, for everyone involved in this, only time. And it takes time. Everyone has their own grieving process,” said James.
“Being able to remember it, wearing (Mamba’s) jerseys during the postseason and having the postseason that we had, we have a lot of guys wearing their shoes, I can wear the two-four on my toe every night and then when we play at Staples Center, you see the eight, two-four on the rafters to remember his legacy.”
“Many things die in this world, but legends never die, and he is exactly that. So it’s about representing that.”
Bryant was James’s childhood idol and the two became close friends. James naturally suffered after Bryant’s death and admitted that it was a mental challenge to be the leader of the Lakers organization during that time.
“I try not to put myself in that mental space again because it is too dark, not only for me, but for our organization and for everyone who is involved in it,” he recalled. “As club leader, it was my job and my responsibility to take it all in and represent our team with the greatest amount of force that I could. I wanted everyone within this organization to know that I was okay doing that. ”
‘I still have problems’
Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ co-captain alongside James, admitted that he still has a hard time coming to terms with Bryant’s death.
He has helped James take on much of the responsibility that comes with being the leading figure in an organization, both on and off the court, including leading the team to win last season’s title in memory of Bryant.
“As we approach his first anniversary, we are saddened to realize that he is gone,” Davis said. “I know I still have problems with that, you still can’t believe it, especially when you were really close to him.” Davis’ dominating performances in that victorious postseason elevated him to another plane and established his place among the league’s best players.
Part of what led him to find another momentum was a determination to win the title as a tribute to Bryant. Davis said the entire team immediately realized that a championship would become more important in the wake of Bryant’s death.
“It was on January 26 of last year when it happened. From that moment on, we think: “We have a purpose,” he recalled. “To this day, ‘Mamba on the count of three!’ Every time we bring him up because we still want to acknowledge that he is part of our organization. And since the tragedy happened, we had the mentality that this is bigger than ourselves.”
“When the tragedy happened, it was more, you know, ‘Let’s do it for him’ and that’s what we ended up doing all of last year. Even when we play now, in the back of our mind is that we still play for Kobe, his family and to help the city of Los Angeles, and I think we brought a lot of joy to our city when we won.”
“We know that we fought to the end for a purpose, and it was not just for ourselves. It was for the Bryant family and we were able to do it. “On the court, Bryant and Pau Gasol formed a devastating partnership and won two NBA championships. Outside of her, they became brothers. Gasol and his family have spent a great deal of time with Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters since his death.
Pau’s younger brother, Marc, joined the Lakers during the preseason and hopes to emulate his brother’s accomplishments with the franchise. He still has a hard time opening up about the incident that took Bryant, but says his presence is felt deeply within the organization and is still used as inspiration in achieving the team’s goals this season.
I don’t feel comfortable talking about it. I’m sorry. Even to this day, I’ve never really talked about it, ”Marc said.
“It will be part not only of the team, the franchise, the city, it’s very emotional, obviously it’s someone we looked at.”
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