Naturally, just a few days after the Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent title, there’s a Kobe Bryant connection to the Dodgers’ Game 7 win.
Inexplicably, the Los Angeles-Tampa World Series battle set to begin on Tuesday has become a clash for “City of Champion” bragging rights. The two most recent major sports champions are the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL and Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, putting undue pressure on both the Dodgers and Rays to bring it home once more for civic pride.
Of course, there’s definitely a higher power guiding the purpose of the Dodgers, too: The Mamba Mentality.
LA has had trouble finishing the fight these past few years, and the team has been victimized by confirmed cheaters (the 2017 Astros), suspected cheaters (the 2018 Red Sox) and its own hubris (Clayton Kershaw and Joe Kelly getting outworked by the ’19 Nationals). So perhaps they’ll draw some inspiration from the never-give-up attitude of Kobe Bryant, whose tragic death defined the Lakers’ championship season in 2019-20.
And, judging by Sunday’s Game 7 action, it seems like there’s a Kobe imprint on this team’s journey, too.
Yup, it all checks out. Bryant’s original No. 8 represents a lot to this city, and both Cody Bellinger and Kiké Hernández drilled their tying and go-ahead homers on the eighth pitch they saw.
Add in the fact that both men have been photographed rocking No. 8 Bryant jerseys in recent weeks, and that Bryant himself wore a No. 8 replica Dodgers jersey in the past, and that the final out of the failed 2018 World Series run was made by Manny Machado, who rocked No. 8, and you’ve certainly got the vibes of a higher power.
The Dodgers have a daunting week ahead of them, and in many ways, this team needs a championship for their legacy in much the same way LeBron James did several weeks back.
If everyone in that locker room can keep channeling Kobe Bryant’s relentlessness to cap a season unlike any other, that would very much behoove them.