This year, the world lost Kobe Bryant to a tragic helicopter crash on January 26. The basketball world mourned for months, with players and fans finding multiple ways to honour his legacy. Recently, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James – who promised to carry on Bryant's legacy – shared a tribute for the NBA legend. Fans appeared emotional over the image, which featured the two greats together.
Before the NBA season opener against LA Clippers, the Lakers carried out their championship ring ceremony. Some hours later, digital artist Jeff Cole posted the image, where Bryant stood besides LeBron James – who was receiving his fourth NBA championship ring after the Lakers title win in October.
After some time, James shared the image on his Instagram account. "What I felt last night when I grabbed that ring from the case. Love and miss you my brother," the four-time NBA champion wrote, crediting Cole for his image. Fans appeared emotional over the image, missing their Lakers legend.
The Lakers ring – given out without an audience – also honoured Kobe Bryant. All rings featured a mamba snake behind the players’ jersey number, paying homage to Bryant's nickname Black Mamba, a derivative of his own Mamba Mentality. It also includes a removable top which shows the Lakers’ retired jerseys – which included Bryant's numbers as well.
The 18-time All-Star was the 1996 No. 13 overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets. He was subsequently traded to the Lakers, who he led to five NBA titles – one three peat (2000-2003) and one two-peat (2009, 2010). Bryant played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, retiring in 2016.
Lakers’ LeBron James on Kobe & Gigi Bryant: “They’re a part of this family... We still wear 24, 8 and 2 with pride and remembrance of how great they were.” pic.twitter.com/1XbntZrb5n— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 20, 2020
James, on the other hand, led the Lakers to their record-tying 17th NBA championship. He won his fourth NBA title and NBA Finals MVP, second only to Michael Jordan's record of six. After Bryant's death, James had promised that he would carry forward Bryant's legacy, starting by winning the 2019-20 NBA title. The last time the Lakers won was in 2010, which was the last title they won while Bryant was on the roster.