When the Los Angeles Lakers win their seventeenth NBA championship this June, Kobe Bryant should be awarded his sixth championship ring because his tragic untimely passing will motivate his teammates to ‘Win it for Kobe.’
Lakers and basketball fans around the world are still mourning the loss of one of the world’s most iconic and loved professional sports superstars but you can already anticipate the power of his death coalescing and growing. By the time the Lakers step onto the hardcourt next Friday in Portland to play the Trailblazers, ‘Win it for Kobe’ will have become the team’s mantra with every player on the team committed to dedicating the season to Kobe.
The scene was almost like the end of a movie like Heaven Can Wait where the screenwriters choreograph the passing of an older hero as part of the process of handing the torch to a new younger hero. The irony is Kobe’s tragic death happened just a week after he and his daughter Gigi watched Lebron and the Lakers play at Staples and just a day after he called LeBron to congratulate him on passing him as the NBA’s #3 career point scorer.
Give LeBron James credit for making sure there was no question how the Lakers would respond to Kobe’s tragic passing. LeBron literally promised Kobe he would shoulder the load and continue his championship legacy:
“ I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!!”
The timing of passing of the torch from Kobe to LeBron had never been easy as the two superstars had as many stans as fans so maybe this is just the basketball gods having a laugh on us as they scripted the transition. Maybe this is just their way of getting the Lakers as a team to commit and dedicate themselves to play their best, to embrace Mamba Mentality and the dog days of the regular season and go out there and ‘Win it for Kobe.’
The pressure will be immense on LeBron and the Lakers to ‘Win it for Kobe,’ even greater than before Kobe’s untimely passing, but this is a team with great chemistry that needed a kick to get out of their January doldrums. The postponement of tonight’s big game with the Clippers could be another blessing in disguise, giving the Lakers a chance to rest and get their minds ready for strong finish to the second half of a long NBA season.
There will be those who laugh at LeBron’s promises to Kobe but sports is filled with examples of team’s coming together to accomplish great things in the face of tragedy when inspired by leaders capable of greatness. Cavaliers fans will remember LeBron’s promise to his teammates when they were down 1–3 to the 73–9 Golden State Warriors. Get me this game and I will get you this series promised LeBron. We all know how that turned out.
LeBron’s one of the few superstars in the game today capable of elevating his game to impossible levels. That he’s accepted the weight and challenge of taking the torch from Kobe and assuming his legacy of leading the Lakers to championships is exactly what the Black Mamba would have wanted in this situation. We mortals will never know why Kobe’s passing happened but sometimes tragedies can ultimately lead to good fortune.
I hope and pray that’s what’s going to happen with LeBron taking the torch from Kobe and following his lead and transforming the 2019–20 NBA season into a seventeenth NBA championship for the Lakers. The basketball gods work in mysterious ways so get ready to hang on for a great ride. If the Lakers can adopt a teamwide Mamba Mentality with Kobe helping from above, there’s a good chance that our mourning will turn into celebration.
Winning the 2019–20 NBA championship would be the best way for LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers to honor and dedicate this season to the greatness and memory of Kobe Bryant.
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