LeBron James already delivered perhaps the greatest possible tribute to Kobe Bryant by leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their 17th championship on Sunday night.
Now, days later, James shared a touching message to the fallen Lakers star many have dedicated that title to.
“Hope I made you proud my brother!!” James wrote with a series of photos on Instagram on Wednesday night. “Love and miss you Champ!!”
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among seven people killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles in January. The Lakers honored him constantly throughout the rest of the season, including the addition of jersey patches and a special “Black Mamba” jersey — which earned them a near-perfect 4-1 record in the playoffs in Florida this year.
The Lakers cruised to a dominant win in Game 6 on Sunday night to close out the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. James was named the NBA Finals MVP, too, the fourth time in his career he’s earned that honor and the first player in league history to do so with three different teams.
James latest to honor Kobe Bryant after title
Countless Lakers players, executives and fans have honored Bryant in the wake of the title.
Lakers president Jeanie Buss mentioned him during her speech accepting the Finals trophy at Walt Disney World, and Lakers fans were heard chanting “Kobe!” throughout the streets of Los Angeles immediately after Game 6.
Lakers star Anthony Davis dedicated the title to Bryant in his postgame interview on Sunday night.
“Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do is do it for him, and we didn’t let him down,” Davis said on the court. “It would have been great to do it last game in his jerseys, but it made us come down even more aggressive, even more powerful on both ends of the floor, to make sure we close it down tonight. I know he’s looking down on us proud of us. I know Vanessa [Bryant is] proud of us, the organization’s proud of us. It means a lot to us.”
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, posted a heartfelt message to general manager Rob Pelinka on her Instagram story that night, too.
“Congratulations Uncle P! Congratulations Lakers,” she wrote. “Kobe was right, RP! ‘Stay the course — blockout the noise.’
“Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”
While James has more than done his part to honor Bryant’s legacy since his death, Wednesday’s post officially closed the chapter on one of the strangest, longest seasons in NBA history.
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