On December 29, 2019, Kobe Bryant sat courtside in his former stomping grounds, visiting Staples Center in what would be his last time to watch an LA Lakers game. Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna joined the NBA legend to support the only team that his father had ever played for.
Kobe and Gigi Bryant were on hand to witness what would eventually become a championship team going up against the up-and-coming Dallas Mavericks. The LA Lakers beat the Mavs 108-95, a parting gift of sorts for the Lakers great.
Kobe Bryant greeted by LeBron James
LeBron James recorded his 9,000th assist, becoming the ninth player in NBA history to accomplish the feat. Also on this day, James was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Decade which gave the elder Bryant further reason to visit the man who would carry on his legacy of winning titles for the city of Los Angeles.
To add to this day’s nostalgia, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant embraced in the middle of the game as the former rivals exchanged pleasantries with the crowd cheering behind them.
But James wasn’t the only superstar to have a moment with Kobe Bryant as Mavericks guard Luka Doncic also took time to shake hands with the LA Lakers’ all-time scoring leader. Doncic was surprised to hear Bryant speaking in a familiar language.
"He was talking Slovenian,” Doncic said. “He was talking my language. I saw Kobe talking Slovenian and I was really surprised."
Kobe Bryant was gone too soon
A month later, on Jan. 27, 2020, Kobe Bryant and Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with several others.
The world would mourn the untimely passing of the Laker great and his daughter, and his memory would be forever etched not just in the minds of LA Lakers fans but also in the team’s 2020 championship rings.
It’s a fitting tribute to the legend that is Kobe Bryant.Published 30 Dec 2020, 08:53 IST