Vanessa Bryant witnessed quite a few Los Angeles Lakers championships after seeing her late husband Kobe Bryant bring home five of them. On Sunday evening, the Lakers carried out a goal they had set well before the season began in winning their 17th NBA title over the Miami Heat. Their quest for another title, however, took on some more weight following the tragic death of Bryant, the face of the franchise even after his playing career wrapped up.
Following the Lakers’ impressive 106-93 victory, Vanessa celebrated the win and let her Instagram followers know all about how excited she was and also how much she wishes her husband and daughter, Gigi Bryant, who was also lost in the deadly helicopter crash, could have witnessed it. “Go Lakers! Congratulations Uncle P [Rob Pelinka]. Congratulations [Lakers]. Kobe was top, RP! ‘Stay the course, Blockout the Noise.’ Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”
During the presentation of the Larry O’Brien championship trophy, Jeannie Buss, who is the president of the franchise, called it “a heartbreaking tragedy” that the organization went through this year. Anthony Davis, who won his first title, said he knows Bryant is "looking down on us" and celebrating. The loss of Bryant was especially hard on the city itself and the loyal fan base the Lakers have. Bryant spent his entire 20-year career in the purple and yellow and became one of the most popular figures not just in the city, but across the world. After the Lakers victory in Game 6, fans in Los Angeles headed to the empty Staples Center to celebrate outside, chanting “This ones for Kobe.”
With the NBA moving to a bubble at the Walt Disney World property in Orlando, Florida, no fans have been able to witness any of these games or celebrate in person after the team’s victory. The Staples Center, which hasn’t hosted a Lakers game since March, quickly became a popular place to celebrate after the final buzzer.
Bryant and his daughter were among nine people involved in a deadly helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in Orange County, California. A private funeral was held on Feb. 7. Later, a public memorial was conducted at the Staples Center on Feb. 24 that featured many of his former teammates and those he impacted throughout his career both on and off the court.