The Los Angeles Lakers are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since Kobe Bryant led them there in 2010. 10 years later, everything seems different. Kobe Bryant’s passing sent a shock through the entire basketball world, but it may have hit closest to home in the Lakers organization.
On the daily Locked On Lakers Podcast, hosts Anthony Irwin and Pete Zayas (LakerFilmRoom) discuss where the organization was at the time of Kobe Bryant’s passing and how they’ve seemingly rallied around him in their run to the Finals.
Anthony Irwin: One of the things that some of my friends have been talking to me about who cover other teams is ‘why is it the Lakers get to take ownership over grief with Kobe when none of the players knew Kobe personally?’
My answer has been Jeanie Buss buss, according to some of the people that I spoke to in the peripheries of the Lakers franchise, were saying it was hard for Jeanie to form full sentences for a week. She was in such grief, Rob Pelinka goes AWOL for a while, and the entire Lakers organization was just basically shut down. Yes, LeBron James wasn’t a bestie with Kobe and Anthony Davis wasn’t best friends with Kobe Bryant, but both those guys, for one thing, idolized him growing up. Then he’s one of the only people that either of those people could consider a peer.
Then, as all that is going on, they’re walking the hallways of the Lakers organization HQ, and seeing people legitimately torn to shreds, not just because of Kobe’s passing, but because of the passing of his daughter. Ownership is too strong a word, but you bet your asses this was something that the Lakers should factor into the math of how insane an accomplishment this entire season has been. The fact that they could pull themselves together, the fact that LeBron James and Anthony Davis could lead this organization through that tough a situation to now reach where they’re at right now, to accomplish something legitimately historically great en route to hopefully a 17th NBA championship.
All that is, throw your Laker-hater aside if you can, all that is special. Forget how you feel about the Lakers, which for a lot of people is difficult, if not impossible. Throw all of that aside, and the season was special. AD hits the biggest shot of his entire life and the first thing he says right after he hits it is what? KOBE. It’s the first thing he talks about. The entire team says we don’t want to lose a game in those jerseys because you don’t play for the Lakers and not understand what Kobe Bryant means to that organization, means to that city means to this fan base.