By Terrance Turner
The Los Angeles Lakers have won the NBA Championship. The Lakers won Game 6 after a commanding performance, defeating the Miami Heat 106-93. This is the 17th championship for the franchise (tied for the most all-time). The team reacted with jubliance to the win, with player J.R. Smith shedding his shirt and celebrating with teammates:
The team led consistently throughout the game’s fourth quarter, leading by over 20 points. They led by as much as 30 points during the first half, according to ESPN. LeBron James won NBA Finals MVP after rallying the Lakers to win the final series 4-2. James logged a triple-double — 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists, per ESPN — to helps power the Lakers past a challenging Miami Heat.
LeBron James is the first player ever to win a championship with three different teams.
The championship has a different impact this year, for many reasons. But a major reason that this win means so much is because of the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer. In a chaotic, grueling year that saw the heartbreaking loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, the Lakers winning the title was the only appropriate way for this NBA season to end.
“I can not let him down,” Lakers player Anthony Davis said of Bryant, to whom he was close. The Lakers dedicated the O’Brien Trophy to Bryant, who perished along with his daughter in a helicopter crash in January. After a tragic, difficult year for Lakers fans, the win is a much-needed balm. It also was a rebound for the Lakers after missing the playoffs last season. In his postgame interview, James stated that “the organization want their respect, Laker Nation want their respect — and I want my damn respect, too.”
The win has added significance because of the context of this remarkable year. The team played three months in “the bubble” — a sprawling Disney complex in Orlando, Florida — because of the coronavirus. (Nobody was allowed to leave the area; there was regular testing for COVID-19.) The NBA Finals came after a historic boycott: the players all sat out their games in response to the near-fatal shooting of Jacob Blake. It was a year marked by active protests by NBA players after the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. James was particularly vocal about the treatment of Black people and the fear they experience:
The Lakers had hoped to win wearing Bryant’s “Black Mamba” jerseys, but lost Game 5 after taking a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Davis told a reporter later that the loss motivated them to play even harder: “It made us come out even more aggressive, even more powerful,” Davis said. This is Anthony Davis’ first NBA Championship. It is also the first NBA championship for 35-year-old Lakers center Dwight Howard. He grew emotional after the win, urging his followers not to give up on their dreams: “I swear to God, don’t never give up on yourself.”