Vanessa Bryant remembered her late husband, Kobe, and their daughter, Gianna, as the LA Lakers beat Miami Heat to end their decade-long wait for the NBA Championship title.
The franchise came away with a 106-93 Game 6 win to secure a 4-2 series victory on Sunday night and the triumph, their 17th title, put them level with the Boston Celtics in the history books.
Lakers players paid tribute to their iconic former player, Kobe Bryant, before, after and even during the game, with star names Anthony Davis and LeBron James dedicating the victory to the great man, widely regarded as one of the finest the sport has ever seen.
Bryant, 41 at the time, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash back in January, which also claimed the lives of seven others on board.
‘Wish Kobe and Gigi [Gianna] were here to see this,’ his widow Vanessa posted on Instagram as the Lakers sealed their 17th crown.
She also passed on her congratulations to Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, Gianna’s godfather and the man at the helm of the franchise since 2017.
‘Congratulations Uncle P!’ she said alongside a picture of Kobe and Pelinka.
‘Congratulations @Lakers Kobe was right … ‘stay the course- block out the noise.’
Pelinka sought inspiration from Bryant before and throughout the encounter and often spoke of waking in the middle of the night to hear his voice telling him to ‘stay the course’ and ‘finish the task’.
Lakers talisman James lived up to his big-game credentials by scoring 28 points, which included a breathtaking triple double.
Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo both put on 19 points as Frank Vogel’s men pulled away from the Heat inside the NBA’s bio-secure bubble at Disney World, Florida, where both sets of players have been for the the last three months.
Lakers stars were heard bellowing out their ‘one, two, three, Mamba!’ chant late on in Sunday’s showpiece and supporters flooded out onto the streets all over Los Angeles to cheer Bryant’s name.
After their win, Pelinka referred to Bryant’s never-ending belief that their ten-year title drought would soon cease in an emotional interview,
‘Guess you were right, man,’ he said while staring upwards.
‘You gave me the energy to do it.’
He later added: ‘Kobe and Gianna have guided this team the entire year.
‘Kobe’s voice is always in my head, always, every day, every minute.’
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