Kobe Bryant
(Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images)

Lakers Family Comes Together to Honor Kobe Bryant

by Rodrigo Azurmendi
Staff Writer

Live on, brother.

At the apex of arguably the most painful week in franchise history, Kobe Bryant’s memory permeated every last corner of the house he built.

His legacy was felt everywhere – from the trumpets on the corner of Figueroa and Chick Hearn Court to the knot in ageless Lakers P.A. announcer Lawrence Tanter’s throat.

It resided on the shoulders of LeBron James, who pushed back tears to grab the microphone and address a crowd broken with sorrow, reeling from the absence of the city’s most beloved son.

James read the names of the nine people who perished on that fateful Sunday morning and then tossed the rest of his notes, the result being a powerful message that made eyes well, yes, but also touched souls in a way that eventually could get them on the path of healing.

“Laker Nation, I would be selling y’all guys short if I read off this (paper), so I’m going to go straight from the heart,” he said as preamble. “This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be.”

LeBron, praising the organization and the fanbase for coming together and acting like a family amid tragedy, went on to explain the meaning of what ensued.

Kobe once said that when “you get older, you understand that it’s about the next generation”, and those he inspired took the mantle and gave fans some to cheer on – a small respite on an evening full of pain.

Damian Lillard, 12 years younger than Bryant, honored him with a 48-point performance. Anthony Davis, only 25 years old, had 37 and brought the crowd to its feet with jumpers and putbacks and general excellence.

Now one will remember the final score or any specific sequence or performance. It wasn’t one of those nights anyway. But the 48 minutes of basketball were exciting, spirited, and hard-fought. Worthy of the ultimate competitor.

Bryant also lingered on the Xbox Plaza concrete slabs, where hundreds of the Mamba faithful poured their hearts out and said their piece with ink and chalk.

Such manifestations of pure love are only reserved for those in the proverbial pantheon – a place to which Kobe punched his ticket long before the era of social media and fleeting fame.

His memory filled every gap this week, and could be seen in the giant teddy bear outside STAPLES Center and the countless balloons, candles, drawings and letters.

It was present in the hair rising magic of the cello and the weight of Usher’s rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’. In the angelical voice of Charlie Puth and the powerful verse of Wiz Khalifa.

Kobe was already the property of the eternal, with his 8 and his 24 hanging in the rafters of the true mecca of basketball. Banners and jerseys, after all, do hang forever.

We’ll remember him in the purple and gold sunsets from the upper concourse balcony. In the M-V-P chants and the constant strive for perfection.

In the smile of those who remember who brought a new era of greatness to Los Angeles.

Not forgotten. Never.

Live on, brother.

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