Lakers Nation all the way.
Shockingly on 26th January, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine people who died in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles. Bryant, who coined the moniker ‘Black Mamba’ for himself was an iconic and polarizing star, who had spent his entire 20-year playing career with the Lakers, winning five championships, before he retired in 2016. Murals of him and his daughter appeared all over the world. The whole basketball community was shaken by this unexpected tragedy, and following a memorial service at the famous Staples center, mentally the Lakers were in bad shape.
Just about two weeks later, the season was indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the hiatus, protests against police brutality and racial injustice roiled the country. It was even questioned whether the season should be cancelled so as to not be a distraction as the protests went on. On 4th June a restart date of 30th July was announced in order to finish the competition and a tentative new season’s opening date was to be set for the month of December. Yet, through all the calamities, big and small, the Lakers went on to win the franchise’s 17th championship and the first since 2010 which was also Kobe Bryant’s last title.
Before the start of the season the Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans took part in trade, where Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram joined the Pelicans and Anthony Davis joined the Lakers. Fans were concerned whether the management had made the correct decision to jeopardize the team’s future in order to compete for the title where Lebron James was at the centre of things. However, the management proved their doubters wrong. The main attacking and defensive force which led them to the title and surely one of the best duos to play in the Lakers’ history – Lebron James and Anthony Davis here played the most crucial role in this championship win. James finished the Final series averaging 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists. Davis finished the series averaging 25.0 points, 10.7 rebounds 3.2 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals. (source)
It is never easy to win a championship, and the challenges of winning this season were unique given the circumstances. On the road to the finals, during the post-season playoffs the Lakers fended off challenges from the likes of the Portland Trailblazers led by Damian Lillard after that came the Houston Rockets led by James Harden who was reunited with an old teammate Russell Westbrook. The most worrisome of the lot seemed to be the Denver Nuggets spearheaded by Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with the latter giving one of the best postseason performances ever seen in the NBA’s history. This season’s runner up, Miami Heat, showed some real mettle and high speed play to reach the finals. Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo were certainly the ones who took the Heats to the finals, but were overpowered by the Lakers lead duo.
After the win the focus was on Lebron James completely, who won the finals MVP for a 4th time along with a 4th NBA title. Lebron James has now appeared in 9 of the last 10 NBA finals played. (A reminder- he has completed 17 years in the NBA and is 35). But it wasn’t the perfect season for him as he missed out on the regular season MVP to last year’s winner GIannis Antetokounmpo again and finished in second place. Giannis also won the Defensive player of the year (DPOY), beating the second half of the duo, Anthony Davis to it. Lebron James has certainly answered his critics and doubters with his performance on the field following questions which came up regarding the player’s fitness.
The Lakers certainly honoured the Mamba’s legacy!
S.Y B.Sc. Economics