It might be next to impossible to detail the level of emotions and energy inside the STAPLES Center after the stirring loss of Kobe Bryant and his young daughter, Gianna Bryant. With the arena and homecourt decked out to honor the late Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trailblazers put on an offensive display that exhibited Mamba Mentality.
Ahead of the contest, Lakers captain LeBron James took to center court to give a rousing speech honoring Bryant’s life while making certain to capture all sides of the man. While he had a prepared speech ready to go, James threw that aside, cursing on the microphone, and spoke strictly from his perspective while fighting back tears the entire time. It is, without a doubt, one of the greatest moments in sports history.
Watch LeBron James’ speech for Kobe Bryant below.
The Lakers organization added a ton of flourishes throughout the arena, including draping each seat with replicas of Bryant’s #8 and #24 jerseys, along with a special dedicated section for him and his daughter. The somber air hung over the crowd but a game was to be played. The organization also rendered Bryant’s initials into the style of the Lakers team lettering on the jerseys and the hardwood floor.
For 48 minutes, each time played their hearts out and thrilled the crowd. Damian Lillard was especially electric in the contest, putting up 48 points and teetering on the edge of a triple-double with 10 assists and nine rebounds. Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers with 37 points, 15 boards while dishing out six assists.
The Blazers defeated the Lakers 127-119 and after the game, Lillard, honoring the competitive spirt of Bryant, said that he was channeling the Mamba’s drive to win. Classy stuff.