It has been almost six months since Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others died in a tragic helicopter accident. That moment sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and the world for that matter as it was as surreal as what 2020 has become.
With the half-year mark coming up and the NBA restart right around the corner, LeBron James was asked about Kobe’s passing how it still resonating even with some much happening in the world since that devastating day back in January.
“A day doesn’t go by where I don’t think about him,” LeBron said of Kobe. “A day doesn’t go by where our organization does not remember him and think about not only Kobe, but Gigi, Vanessa, and the other girls.
“They’re part of this family. Just as big as anybody in this organization’s history, so we still wear 24 and 8 and No. 2 with pride and remembrance of how great they were.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel also spoke to the media on Monday and talked about Kobe’s impact still being felt on the team. Vogel went a little deeper as to what Bryant will mean for the Los Angeles franchise as they head into the playoffs following the three scrimmage and eight seeding games.
“He’s still with us,” Vogel said of Bryant. “Any time a group like ours goes through something so emotionally deep, I just think it forms bonds—strengthened our group.
“You never want something like that to happen, but I do think that’s the effect of something like that. We always, even prior to this happening, we wanted to embody what he stood for and even more so now with what happened. We want to honor his memory.
“I think there’s going to be a daily mindset of honoring the work and having that toughness about us. I think when we get into the playoffs, there will be opportunities and situations where we’ll refresh our mindset of things that he stood for and what his approach was from a competitive spirit standpoint come playoff time that I think will help us in our mission this year.”
Clearly, Kobe’s memory and legacy are still very fresh in the minds of LeBron, Vogel, and this Lakers squad as they prepare for an unprecedented time in the NBA bubble over the next few months. They will be able to continue drawing inspiration from the late five-time NBA champion while trying to bring home a 17th title for the storied franchise in his honor.
The Lakers’ first scrimmage will take place this week when LeBron and company will go head-to-head against Luka Doncic’s Dallas Maverick on July 23. Los Angeles will then face the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards leading up to the official restart of the NBA in which Vogel’s squad will take on Kawhi Leonard’s L.A. Clippers on July 30.