While Anthony Davis was busy demolishing alleged best defensive player in the NBA Rudy Gobert to the tune of 42 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers beat the Jazz last night, he was also making a little history, becoming the first Laker to score 20 points in 20 different first halves since Kobe Bryant.
When informed of that little stat by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in his walk-off interview, Davis couldn’t help but smile and shake his head. On a night when his Lakers became the first of the team’s rosters to clinch the No. 1 seed in the West since Kobe was still playing, Davis felt like it was just one more sign that the late Lakers superstar is still with this team
“It means a lot to be in a category with him. I just got chills,” Davis said, pausing to collect himself because it’s still “tough” for him to talk about his former Olympic teammate and mentor.
“I know he’s looking down on us and cheering us on, so we want to do it for him,” Davis said. “It’s an honor to even be mentioned with his name.”
"I just got chills. ... to be in a category with [Kobe Bryant], I know he's looking down on us and cheering us on, so we want to do it for him."— ESPN (@espn) August 4, 2020
–Anthony Davis on joining Kobe in the Lakers' record books (via @Rachel__Nichols) pic.twitter.com/pCkXoL1fpz
Davis is not the first Laker to mention that the team wants to win the title for Kobe, as LeBron James and Frank Vogel already spoke extensively about how Bryant’s approach and influence on both the Lakers organization and basketball as a whole is a motivating factor in their quest for the franchise’s 17th banner.
“He’s still with us,” Vogel said a few weeks ago. “Even prior to this happening, we wanted to embody what he stood for, and even more so now with what happened. We want to honor his memory.”
“A day doesn’t go by where I don’t think about him,” added James. “A day doesn’t go by where our organization doesn’t remember him and think about not only Kob’, but Gigi, Vanessa and the other girls.”
The Lakers have approached the game in a way that would likely make Bryant proud this year, not load managing and showing up to compete just about every game. Whether they actually go through with winning the championship remains to be seen, but they’ve shown Mamba Mentality in the way they’ve pursued it. For a community that’s still feeling the absence of Bryant while going through as tough of a year as the world has ever seen, it’s been a bright spot to watch the way they’ve gone about honoring the Lakers legend with their play.