Vanessa Bryant remembered her husband and daughter as the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title on Sunday night.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others in January, and the Lakers had dedicated their season to their former player, who won five titles with Los Angeles during a glittering 20-year career.
Vanessa Bryant posted a photo of her husband and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka to an Instagram story after the Lakers clinched their 17th title with a 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat.
“Congratulations Uncle P! Congratulations @Lakers Kobe was right … ‘stay the course- block out the noise,’” wrote Vanessa Bryant. She added: “Wish Kobe and Gianna were here to see this.” Gianna, who was 13 when she died, was a talented player herself and many had tipped her as a future star in the WNBA.
The Lakers had paid tribute to Bryant earlier this month when they wore jerseys designed by the 18-time All Star for Game 5 of the NBA finals. They also used his nickname when breaking huddles during the playoffs, shouting “1-2-3 Mamba!”. And when Anthony Davis hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals he yelled “Kobe!” as he pounded his chest.
Davis spoke about Bryant again after Sunday night’s game. “Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him, and we didn’t let him down” said Davis. “I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us. He was a big brother to all of us, and we did this for him.”
Bryant’s close friend, LeBron James, was named NBA finals MVP. At Bryant’s memorial service earlier this year, James vowed to continue his friend’s legacy. “The one thing that we always shared was that determination to just always want to win and just want to be great,” James said at the time. “I want to continue along with my teammates, to continue his legacy … because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”