Anthony Davis On Kobe Bryant: 'This Is Definitely For Him'

Melissa Rohlin

After Anthony Davis won his first NBA championship, he recalled a conversation that he had with Kobe Bryant when he attended Lakers games in Nov. and Dec. 

"Before the tragedy, he would come to the game and just tell us, 'This is y'all year. This is y'all year. Go out and take it,'" Davis said Oct. 11. "He had a lot of confidence in our team. He had a lot of confidence in our organization to go out there and win it this year."

Davis had a special bond with Bryant. 

They developed a close relationship during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Davis, who was 19 at the time, impressed Bryant with his fearlessness and curiosity by consistently approaching him and asking him questions. 

Bryant went on to teach the teenager an important lesson. 

Before a game against Nigeria, Davis forgot to put on his jersey. When United States men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski tried to put him in the game, he realized his error and whispered to Bryant what had happened. 

Bryant had a special talk with him.  

"Now before every game I kind of just check to make sure I have my jersey on," Davis said in Jan. "He taught me how to get dressed before a game."

After Bryant died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, Davis was devastated. He wrote a heartfelt message on Instagram, calling him "the first guy to put me under your wing and show me the ins and outs of the league." And he got a tattoo of a Black Mamba coiled around a sheath to honor him. 

After Davis was told during a postgame interview in Aug. that he was the first player since Bryant to have 20 games in which he scored 20 or more first-half points, he was taken aback. 

"I just got chills,” he said in walk-off interview with ESPN.

And after beating the Houston Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, he wore a shirt that called Bryant the greatest player of all time.

"I think not just me, but the entire team thinks about him all the time," Davis said Sept. 10. "I mean, we say ‘Mamba on three’ after every timeout, every huddle, knowing that he’s with us and knowing that we’re not only playing for our organization, but playing for him."

The Lakers went on to wear Black Mamba jerseys that Bryant helped design in five postseason games as they competed for their first title since 2010, when Bryant led the team to his fifth and final championship. They were 4-1 in those jerseys. 

Davis said those jerseys had a definite affect on the team.

"When we brought out the Mamba jerseys, we had a different swag," Davis said. "It sucks that we didn't go undefeated [in the Mamba jerseys], but I know he would rather take this championship than a loss in a Mamba jersey. We miss him, and this is definitely for him."

It was a long season full of many ups and downs. 

But at the end, Davis said there's one thing that brings him peace. 

"I know he's looking down on us super proud," Davis said. 

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