After the amazing tribute that went down at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday night, Magic took to Instagram to commend Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss and crew for doing an amazing job paying tribute to the LA legend.
“Jeanie Buss and the Lakers organization honored Kobe in the most amazing way; Laker Nation in Kobe 24 and 8 jerseys throughout the arena, the video tribute, and announcing every player as Kobe. It couldn’t have gone any better,” Johnson stated.
Magic continued, “Usher singing Amazing Grace, Boyz II Men singing the National Anthem, and Ben Hong with the cello tribute brought everyone to tears. We will always love Kobe and he will be forever in our hearts.”
After reading all the names of the victims of the fatal crash, “Alyssa Altobelli. John Altobelli. Keri Altobelli. Payton Chester. Sarah Chester. Christina Mauser. Ara Zobayan. Gianna Bryant and Kobe Bryant.” LeBron threw his prepared speech on the floor and delivered a message “straight from his heart.”
“I got something written down, they asked me to kind of stay on course or whatever the case may be but Laker Nation, man, I would be selling y’all short if I read off this s**t so I’m going to go straight from the heart,” James declared.
“Now I know at some point, we will have a memorial for Kobe but I look at this as a celebration tonight,” he said. “This is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken-down body, the getting up, the sitting down, the everything. The countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be. Tonight, we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the past three years, man.”
James continued to say that Laker Nation is a true family and that tonight’s celebration meant the world to Kobe, Gianna, Vanessa, and the rest of their loved ones. He vowed to honor number 24’s legacy by doing what Bryant would want them to do… play basketball.
“The fact that I’m here now means so much to me. I want to continue along with my teammates, to continue his legacy, not only for this year, but for as long as we can play the game of basketball that we love because that’s what Kobe Bryant would want.”
LeBron concluded his moving tribute by saying, “So in the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba out.’ But in the words of us, ‘Not forgotten.’ Live on, brother.”
In addition to Usher and BoyzIIMen, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth delivered a moving performance of their hit song, “See You Again” at halftime. As Puth finished tickling the ivory keys, Wiz put the mic to his mouth and said, “We love you, Kobe.” The audience cheered and wiped the tears from their eyes.
The Lakers ended up losing the game 127-119 to the Portland Trailblazers but tonight was about much more than one basketball game. It was a celebration of a man who gave everything he had to the game and his family. RIP Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Gianna Bryant, and Kobe Bryant.