More than eight months after the accidental death of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday.
Ten years after the last coronation of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers go back to the top of the NBA: carried by LeBron James once again royal, they won their 17th title, tying the Boston record, after their victory in the final against Miami.
LA, easy winner (106-93) of the sixth game on Sunday, won four wins to two. It is a very special title which is added to its formidable list of achievements, with the supreme pleasure of making a place for itself in the Pantheon alongside the Celtics, hated rivals. But pride is mixed with immense emotion.
“Broken Lakers” on January 26 when idol Kobe was killed in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, they are consoled Lakers, who, eight and a half months later, raised this Larry O’Brien trophy to the sky, where the star “Bryant” will have accompanied them during this season decidedly like no other.
“We have experienced a heartbreaking tragedy with the loss of our beloved Kobe and Gianna. May this trophy remind us that when we come together, believe in each other, amazing things can happen, ”said owner Jeanie Buss.
This extra soul was useful to them to overcome a team of the Heat still admirable in courage, but which had no more gasoline in the engine, like Jimmy Butler who will nevertheless have passed in a another dimension in this final with performances worthy of those of a champion.
But opposite there was the one who remains at 35 years the best player in the world and who had promised to the “Lakers Nation” to bring back the title to him, in order to “perpetuate the legacy” of Kobe. In doing so, he too now has a place in the hearts of fans. LeBron knew that his previous coronations in the Miami (2012, 2013) and Cleveland (2016) jerseys did not matter to them and that his heartfelt tearful tribute to his glorious elder, five days after his death, would not be enough. So he kept his word on the floor.
Logically designated MVP of the final, the “King” still reigned over the meeting, evidenced by his triple-double (28 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists), the 28th of his career in the play-offs, two units from the record by Magic Johnson.
He was not alone. Anthony Davis dominated in the racket and was still a very dissuasive bulwark (19 pts, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks).
Behind this explosive duo, whose teamwork was perfectly successful this season by trainer Frank Vogel, the second knives were very sharp this time, like Rajon Rondo, a real X factor with his 19 points (8/11 ) off the bench, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (17 points).
So much so that for the Heat, for which it was the sixth final in fifteen years (three were won in 2006, 2012, 2013), the last step was a little too high. And this final defeat, quite severe, does not illustrate to what extent they were rivals for unwavering self-sacrifice in this final.
Butler limited to 12 points (8 assists), Bam Adebayo was the most bloody in attack (25 pts, 10 rebounds). It was he who allowed his team to get closer to the score in the last quarter.
As for Goran Dragic, who made an unexpected comeback, after three matches without playing because of a plantar aponeurosis, he logically lacked rhythm (5 pts), while shooters Tyler Herro (7 pts) and Duncan Robinson ( 10 pts) did not weigh.
This does not detract from the beautiful course of Miami. But 2020 was the year of the Lakers. It started in tragedy, it ends in jubilation, at the end of a single season in the NBA, the longest in its history, the most chaotic too, after four and a half months of interruption due to the coronavirus and in a climate of fight against racial injustice at its peak this summer.
Yes, this title, deprived of fan fervor behind closed doors at Disney World, will be marked with an asterisk for the history books. But in the form of a Bryant star, and the Lakers therefore have many reasons to find him handsome.