Lakers reflect on triumphs of 2020, Kobe’s death and COVID-19

Lakers forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis talk during a break in play against the Clippers on Dec. 22, 2020.
Lakers forwards LeBron James (23) and Anthony Davis (3) talk during a break in play against the Clippers in the season opener Dec. 22.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It was a year of joy when the Lakers won the NBA championship and of pain when iconic figure Kobe Bryant was lost.

It was a year of dreams fulfilled and nightmares realized. The year of triumphs and burdens. The year of awareness and social unrest. The year of COVID-19 and the havoc it still wreaks.

The year 2020 reached its conclusion on Thursday, leading Anthony Davis and his Lakers teammates happy to see it in the rear and hopeful that 2021 brings more happiness.


“It’s a lot of sadness in the world,” Davis said after Wednesday’s victory about 2020. “Obviously we all will remember it because of the coronavirus. But from a basketball standpoint it will be the year that I won my first championship, a year that I reached a milestone in my career and improved a lot. But from a life standpoint, a year that caused so much pain and heartache to the world. And a year everyone is rushing to get over with and start ‘21.”

On Jan. 26, Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash.

That shook the Lakers to their core. The basketball world grieved.

Becky Hammon becomes the first woman to coach during an NBA game during the Lakers’ win over the San Antonio Spurs. Here’s what else we learned.

Dec. 31, 2020

On March 11, the NBA shut down the league after Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

After a four-month hiatus, the league restarted the season on July 30 in a “bubble” environment on Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla.

The Lakers stood firm through almost 100 days in the bubble and claimed the franchise‘s 17th NBA championship on Oct. 11.

For LeBron James, the events that shaped him and the world are something he plans on telling his grandkids about some day.

“I think it’s something that I will be able to sit down and talk to my grandkids about and say that the year 2020 was one helluva year — the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between,” James said Wednesday night. “It’s something that us as Americans and people all over the world hadn’t seen before ever, and just with the pandemic and the shutdown of our leagues, not only the NBA but so many of the professional leagues and collegiate sports, things of that nature and businesses. Everything.”

On Aug. 26, the NBA postponed three games, including one between the Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the court for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic.

Players on the Bucks had grown upset after seeing the video of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, being shot seven times by a white police officer in Kenosha, Wis., which is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.

NBA players had already decided to take a stand to use their voices and platforms to talk about social injustices in Black and brown communities.

James had started More Than a Vote, a voting rights organization that seeks to combat systemic and racist voter suppression.

“A lot of people lost a lot, they lost a lot,” James said. “Either family members or businesses that they’ve put so much work in over the course of so many years. So that’s something that was heartbreaking for a lot of people. So, my prayers goes out to that. And being able to sit back and talk to my grandkids about everything from police brutality to the Black Lives Matters, to the [systemic] racism, to the More Than a Vote initiative that we was able to do.


Spurs assistant Becky Hammon was prepared when she became the first woman to serve as an NBA head coach after Gregg Popovich was ejected against L.A.

Dec. 31, 2020

“There’s just so many things that happened and transpired throughout year, so many story lines that you can sit down by the fireplace and have your grandkids sit on your lap and whatever issue they want to talk about you can talk about for quite a while. So, I’m looking forward to that moment.”

Through all of 2020, Davis said, “we learned a lot from this year.”

“At least I did,” he added. “At least from always checking in with your family, love your family, any bickering or beefs or whatever that you have, just squash it or you never know what can happen and I think a lot of people kind of live by that, just loving their family more and loving the people around them and anything that can be fixed try to fix it because so many people lost their lives to this virus. So, it’s a year that everyone will try to forget on a day-to-day basis. But for me on the basketball side, it was the year that I won my championship and it will always be remembered in that sense.”

Up next for Lakers: at San Antonio

When: 5 p.m., Friday.

On the Air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330.

Update: It is an early rematch, so to speak, since the Lakers defeated the Spurs 121-107 on Wednesday night, when LeBron James scored 26 points on his 36th birthday.