LeBron James felt “blessed” to star on Mamba Day as the Lakers took a grip on their Western Conference first-round series against the Trail Blazers.
Mamba Day represents August 24th, or 8-24. Kobe Bryant wore jersey numbers 8 and 24 during his career with the Lakers. The day honors Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January.
On the court, James was his usual self, grabbing a double-double with 30 points and 10 assists for the Lakers in their 135-115 win that established a 3-1 series lead.
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“It’s a wide range of emotions. I am extremely proud of my team, the way we played tonight.” James said. “[I am] extremely blessed and honoured to be able to play on 8/24 and continue to remember Kobe Bryant and Gigi Bryant and all the fallen people that were a part of that tragic incident.”
James also commented on a special moment that happened in the game. With 4:30 remaining in the first quarter, the Lakers hit a shot to make the score 24-8.
Speaking after the game, James brought up that moment.
“When I looked up and saw we were up 24-8, I was like, okay, he’s here in the building,” James said. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful night for our franchise and something we will always remember – this moment.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel also took a moment to reflect on the game.
“The emotional aspect did feel different than any other game we played since we’ve been in the bubble,” Vogel said. “Obviously Kobe is dearly missed. To have a game on 8/24, Kobe Bryant Day, all of us in our whole organization, but particularly our players, felt that and carried that emotion onto the playing court.”
James felt the moment as well.
“To go out there one day removed from his birthday and then his day of 8/24, to be able to have a game on this day, the stars aligned.”
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