Lakers Keeping Kobe Bryant’s Memory Close As Western Conference Finals Begin
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The memory of the late Kobe Bryant has accompanied the Los Angeles Lakers ever since they arrived in Orlando to resume their title chase in one of the most unprecedented seasons in NBA history.

L.A. has repeatedly said the team has been trying to channel Bryant’s fabled Mamba Mentality in search of extra motivation and to honor the five-time NBA champion who died in a helicopter crash in January.

Among the many tributes paid to the legendary forward, starting in the Orlando bubble around the time of his would-be 42nd birthday last month, the Lakers have twice taken the court in the 2020 NBA Playoffs wearing the “Black Mamba” jersey. They won both games.

Lakers All-Star LeBron James even said he felt Bryant’s presence in Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers, the first time they sported the snakeskin-themed jersey.

It was played on Aug. 24, the day known as “Kobe Bryant Day” in a couple of California counties as the date represents the Laker great’s two jersey numbers worn in his career.

But Anthony Davis has admitted a day does not go by without the Lakers thinking of Bryant and his legacy. “Not just me but the entire team thinks about him all the time,” Davis said, wearing a shirt listing Bryant’s titles.

“We say, ‘Mamba on three’ after every timeout, every huddle, knowing that he’s with us and knowing that we’re not only playing for our organization but playing for him.”

Davis added the entire Lakers team received the shirt which shows the acronym “G.O.A.T” emblazoned over the drawing of Bryant, a design the forward described as “dope.” And he said it was just one of the many ways L.A. honors the 18-time All-Star’s memory.

“Guys have their own little things that they do; rituals or whatever to remember him,” Davis said. “We think about him all the time. I for sure think about him all the time, on and off the floor.”

To fully embrace Bryant’s competitiveness in the playoffs, head coach Frank Vogel showed his players a tribute video commemorating the legendary Laker’s career. But he refused to reveal whether he would use a similar motivator later again this postseason. “I prefer not to talk about that,” he said ahead of the Western Conference Finals.

“That, to me, is internal stuff. I’ll just sort of leave it at that. Kobe is with us our whole journey this year.

James, Davis first Lakers teammates to make All-NBA First Team since Bryant and Shaq

Bryant’s name has come up on multiple occasions in the Orlando bubble, most recently when the league announced the 2019-20 All-NBA Teams.

Both James and Davis were selected to the All-NBA First Team after thriving in their first season together that resulted in the Lakers clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

And it marked the first time L.A. had multiple players featured on the First Team since 2004 when Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal received the recognition.

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