Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
After the win, an emotional Anthony Davis dedicated the triumph to the late Kobe Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash this year along with his daughter Gianna and seven other individuals:
“Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do is do it for him. We didn’t let him down. It would have been great to do it in the last game in his jerseys, but it made us come out even more aggressive, even more powerful on both ends of the floor to make sure we closed it out tonight. And I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us. I know Vanessa [Bryant’s] proud of us, the organization’s proud of us. It means a lot to us.”
“He was a big brother to all of us,” Davis added. “We did this for him.”
Davis was not the only member of the Lakers organization to pay tribute to Bryant on this night. General manager Rob Pelinka—who was Gianna’s godfather—also spoke of his late friend, noting Kobe was confident he could turn the franchise around quickly.
“Guess you were right, man,” Pelinka said. “You gave me the energy to do it.”
He added: “There were times in my hotel room down here where I would hear his voice … ‘Stay the course, finish the job.’ … I know he would be a proud friend.”
LeBron James also spoke on Bryant’s death, noting the tragedy brought the team closer together:
There is no greater tribute the Lakers could have made to Bryant than winning a title in his honor, something Bryant did five times with the Purple and Gold.