The ultimate anguish. The ultimate joy. This season, for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, had it all. And it ended in the only fashion that they deemed would be acceptable, with them back atop the basketball world. For the first time since Kobe Bryant's fifth and final title a decade ago, the Lakers are NBA champions, the AP reports. James had 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists, and the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday night to win the NBA Finals in six games. “Our organization wants their respect. Laker Nation wants their respect," James said. “And I want my damn respect, too." With that, the league’s bubble chapter, put together after a 4 1/2-month suspension of play that started March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and came with a promise that it would raise awareness to the problems of racial injustice and police brutality, is over.
Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who dealt with the enormous anguish that followed the death of the iconic Bryant in January and all the challenges that came with leaving home for three months to play at Walt Disney World in a bubble designed to keep inhabitants safe from COVID-19. It would be, James predicted, the toughest title to ever win. “We have a Ph.D in adversity, I'll tell you that much," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We've been through a lot." They made the clincher look easy. James won his fourth title, doing it with a third different franchise—and against the Heat franchise that showed him how to become a champion. And Davis, as white and gold confetti coated the floor around him, spent his first moments as an NBA champion thinking of Bryant. “All we wanted to do was do it for him," Davis said. “And we didn't let him down. ... I know he's looking down on us, proud of us." (More on the game here.)