LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are back in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers topped the Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday night. LeBron had a dominant performance, scoring 38 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists in the decisive victory.
For LeBron, this is his 10th NBA Finals appearance. For the Lakers, it's their first since Kobe Bryant won his fifth championship in 2010.
LeBron has paid tribute to Kobe all season. The former Lakers star and his daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California in late January. Los Angeles' NBA franchise and the rest of the league were understandably heartbroken.
In a postgame interview with Yahoo! Sports following Game 5, LeBron spoke about Kobe, revealing the text message he received after signing in 2018.
“Of course, you think there’s going to be time for us to get together and I understand that there are regrets in life, but I definitely wish I had that moment with him,” James told Yahoo Sports. “I do remember when I decided to come here, he sent me a text right away and said, ‘Welcome, brother. Welcome to the family.’ That was a special moment because at the time, Laker faithful wasn’t [fully in on me]. A lot of people were saying, ‘Well, we might not want LeBron at this point in his career,’ and, ‘Is he right? Is he going to get us back [to the Finals]?’ So to hear from him and get his stamp of approval, it meant a lot. I don’t ever question myself, but when it’s coming from Kobe, it definitely meant a lot.”
LeBron and the Lakers hope to dedicate their NBA Finals win to Bryant and his family.
Los Angeles' NBA Finals run will start on either Wednesday or Friday night, depending on what happens in the Boston-Miami series.