The Lakers are 8-2 since Jan. 26 and have been playing some stellar basketball since the 2020 NBA All-Star break, including a great win against the Boston Celtics.
However, the emotions over the death of Bryant still run high, especially after the Feb. 24 memorial for the lives lost in the helicopter crash. After a number of deeply moving speeches dedicated to the Bryant’s, there was a hope maybe it would help a grieving world find some type of closure.
For James, this was not the case. Following the memorial, he feels the same sense of sadness that many fans do even though he’s been the team’s emotional leader through it all, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“Emotionally a wreck, like everyone else,” James said after shootaround ahead of Tuesday night’s 118-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. “Another challenging day for all of us. Like you’ve been hearing me talk about the last couple times you guys asked me about the whole situation, it’s just been hard to kind of talk about it. Trying not to go back. It’s just tough.”
James spoke about the lack of closure that he and many others feel about Bryant’s death — one that likely won’t go away for a long time:
“It’s never a closure. It’s never going to be a closure,” James said. “I mean, we continue to live on his legacy and continue to have our hearts heavy with both sadness and with happiness for his family that are still here. So it’s not a closure. But it was a celebration which was well received from not only the Laker faithful, not only the family here, but everybody around the world.”
While James and the Lakers likely won’t feel that closure, they have done a great job on the court in the meantime. It seems as though the games have become sort of an outlet for the players to forget about the sadness and a time for them to lean on each other to play well.
As the 2019-20 NBA season progresses and the games become more meaningful, they will likely continue to put aside the pain they and so many fans feel in an attempt to win the 2020 NBA Finals.