They lost on opening night to the Los Angeles Clippers, who were considered the overwhelming favorites to win it all. But from that point on, they established themselves as the best basketball team around, and they went on to win the NBA title in the Walt Disney World Resort bubble.
One piece of motivation they had was the tragic death of late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in January 2020. Forward Markieff Morris talked about how Bryant’s passing made the team feel like it needed to get the job done, and how confident everyone was going into the playoffs while on the “All The Smoke” podcast.
“Before we went in the bubble, we knew we was going to win,” said Morris. “We were so locked in. The [expletive] happened with Kobe was like, ‘We got to get it done for him.’ We was one of the teams that was pushing more for the bubble because we knew we had the best chance of winning, and we knew no matter what or who stepped on the court with us, we was going to win.”
Morris also said that LeBron James set the tone for everyone.
“That’s the most locked in I’ve ever been on basketball. … That LeBron [James] effect is a real thing. He’s gonna up your play or you not gonna play with him. One or the other. And I think for me, I’m a high IQ basketball player, so it was easy for me to mix with him and that’s why I shot 40%.”
The Lakers picked up Morris, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward, in late February to beef up their frontcourt. He gave them some solid defense while hitting 42.0% of his 3-point attempts in the playoffs, and he had a few games where he became white-hot from downtown.
While some may attack the legitimacy of that 2020 championship, no Lakers fan will ever forget the journey that led to it.