The deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. A worldwide pandemic that led to a league-wide shutdown and a 12 month season, the longest in NBA history. Protests against racial inequality and police brutality. Living in a bubble. A target constantly on their backs and the eyes of the world watching. In the end, the Los Angeles Lakers overcame it all to achieve their ultimate goal: winning their 17th NBA Championship in franchise history.
This season, for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, had it all. And it ended in the only fashion that they deemed would be acceptable, with them back atop the basketball world. For the first time since Kobe Bryant's fifth and final title a decade ago, the Lakers are NBA champions. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday night to win the NBA Finals in six games. It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win, but they made the clincher look easy.
James won his fourth title, doing it with a third different franchise - and against the Heat franchise that showed him how to become a champion. Bam Adebayo had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which got 12 points from Jimmy Butler - the player who, in his first Heat season, got the team back to title contention. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points for the Lakers, who put together the elite talents of James and Davis with this moment in mind. And Davis, as white and gold confetti coated the floor around him, spent his first moments as an NBA champion thinking of Bryant.
With that, the league’s bubble chapter, put together after a 4 1/2-month suspension of play that started March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and came with a promise that it would raise awareness to the problems of racial injustice and police brutality, is over. So, too, is a season that saw the league and China get into political sparring, the death on Jan. 1 of commissioner emeritus David Stern - the man who did so much to make the league what it is - and then the shock on Jan. 26 that came with the news that Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other died in a helicopter crash. The Lakers said they were playing the rest of the season in his memory. They delivered what Bryant did five times for L.A. - a ring, and the clincher was emphatic.
Today on AirTalk, we’ll remember the Lakers historic 2020 season and take your calls. Where does this championship compare to others in Laker history? How will you remember this season along with the other great campaigns in franchise history? Join our live conversation by calling 866-893-5722.
With files from the Associated Press
Tania Ganguli, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times