Christmas Day, for many NBA fans, marks the unofficial start of the season. Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were a part of it.
Bryant, who died in January in a helicopter accident, played in his final Christmas Day game five years ago today.
ESPN paid tribute to the landmark via Twitter on Christmas Day morning, leading up to their coverage of games on Friday.
Bryant scored 12 points but it wasn’t enough to lead the Lakers past the Los Angeles Clippers, 94-84, at Staples Center. In one of the photos above, you can see Bryant sharing a moment with then-Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers.
Meanwhile, success for Kobe Bryant wasn’t that common for him in Christmas Day games. After this loss, Bryant finished his career 6-10 on December 25 as he would retire at season’s end.
Kobe Bryant Remembered By LeBron James
The final season of Bryant’s storied career was not a pretty one record-wise. The Lakers finished with a franchise-worst 17-65 record.
Today’s version of the Lakers has returned to its championship form, thanks to the leadership of LeBron James.
James, upon receiving his 2019-20 NBA championship rings this week, took time out to pay homage to his on-court competitor and friend.
Although Bryant and James never played on the same team in the NBA, they were teammates on Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
James shared a photo of receiving his ring with Bryant standing alongside him. The image, done by digital artist Jeff Cole, edits the photo to look like Bryant is watching James put on his ring.
By the way, the photo was well received by fans. James reposted it to his own Instagram account and said, “What I felt last night when I grabbed that ring from the case. Love and miss you my brother!!!!
Obviously, the love and adoration for Bryant remains steadfast throughout the Lakers’ organization and his fans around the NBA.
H/T: Los Angeles Times