On Jan 26, 2020, Los Angeles Lakers legend and sports icon Kobe Bryant passed away in a tragic helicopter accident. The world mourned the loss of one of the best basketball players and household names in history, but none more so than the Los Angeles Lakers team and family. In a cruel bit of foreshadowing, the NBA cancelled games that day and for the Lakers on Tuesday.
Lakers forward Lebron James said, “I want to continue along with my teammates to continue his legacy, not only for this year, but as long as we can play the game of basketball that we love because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”
Many people pointed out that, given the supreme talent the Lakers had, this could be a year to win in honor of their fallen five-time champion. After the entire sports world was put on pause for COVID-19, the Lakers came through on that idea, defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis said after their win, “Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him [Kobe Bryant].”
On the other side of town, the Los Angeles Dodgers, of whom Kobe Bryant was a big fan, had their chance to win a long-awaited championship, even in a shortened season. After a long battle with the Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win their first championship since 1988, taking their place alongside the Lakers as the kings of the sports world.
It was sweet for Dodgers fans, and even sweeter for a city mourning the loss of an icon. It’s precisely the outcome Kobe Bryant would have wanted, though — His city, king of the sports world. Bryant believed in winning more than anything, and that’s just what his Lakers and Dodgers did.
Los Angeles has long been heralded the city of champions. It ranks fourth among all professional sports cities in all-time championships across the five major sports (football, basketball, baseball, soccer and hockey). They have just eight since 2010, though. The Lakers hadn’t won since 2010 and the Dodgers 1988, until 2020. This year has seen Los Angeles return to the upper echelon of sports cities in America. It ranks alongside New York and Boston as the premier sports destinations. If the playoffs began today, the Los Angeles Rams made it as the NFC’s 7th seed. Could they take home an NFL championship to join them?