Jeanie Buss: Lakers’ ongoing tributes to Kobe Bryant are ‘organic’
Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in January of course cast a pall over the Los Angeles Lakers organization, not to mention the entire 2019-20 NBA season.
There unsurprisingly has been no shortage of tributes, remembrances and memorials in tribute to Bryant, and Lakers owner and CEO Jeanie Buss recently opened up about how the organization has continued to honor the icon’s memory since his passing.
What Buss wanted to stress most in her comments this week is how the Lakers never formally planned to pay tribute to Bryant with such frequency this season.
“This wasn’t created,” Buss told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “This wasn’t something like, ‘Oh, the front office is now going to dedicate the season (to Bryant).’ This is completely organic. This is coming from the heart. You can’t write this, because this is who these players are.”
Buss and Bryant forged a strong bond over the years, and her first public comments came in an emotional Instagram post shortly after his death. She expanded upon her close relationship with Bryant in her comments this week.
“I know what my relationship was with Kobe, and how generous he was with his advice and his support of me personally,” Buss said. “I didn’t realize how much he gave to so many other people — of his time, of his wisdom. When you have the winner of the U.S. Open (Naomi Osaka) talking about her conversations with Kobe and how he inspired her, and people in other sports, and other countries. This is who Kobe was, and a reflection of how many lives he’s touched and will continue to touch.”
As the Lakers wrapped up an unprecedented regular season that was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic and began a roll to the NBA Finals once the postseason got underway in the bubble at Walt Disney World, the team continued its tributes to Bryant.
LeBron James said following a playoff win earlier this month that he hopes that Bryant and his family are “proud” of what the Lakers were accomplishing in the postseason. Fellow Lakers star Anthony Davis later shared how the team honors the icon’s memory every game.
Bryant perished along with daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26, and the NBA world has been in mourning ever since.