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Los Angeles Lakers’ Rob Pelinka: Summoned vital energy via spirit of Kobe Bryant

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When things were at their most difficult and trying during 100-plus days inside the NBA bubble, Rob Pelinka said he often heard Kobe Bryant’s voice in his head telling him to “stay the course” and “finish the task.”

After the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the top by winning the franchise’s 17th championship Sunday night, Pelinka looked toward the ceiling during his postgame interview session and got emotional thinking about his best friend.

“When I took the job, I remember he said, ‘Hey, I know what you did for me for 20 years,'” said the Lakers vice president of basketball operations and GM, who used to be Bryant’s agent. “He said, ‘I’ll give you two, three years, you’ll fix this. You’ll get the Lakers back on top.'”

“I guess you were right, man,” Pelinka said. “You give me the energy to do it.”

Vanessa Bryant posted a picture of Pelinka and Bryant on her Instagram story with the words, “Congratulations Uncle P! Congratulations @lakers Kobe was right, RP! ‘Stay the course blockout the noise.’

“Wish Kobe and Gigi were here to see this.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china5

From top to bottom, the Lakers franchise was devastated when Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles in January. But few, if any, were as close to the Bryant family as Pelinka. Pelinka spoke daily to Bryant, his best friend, and was Gianna’s godfather.

He had described losing them as “an amputation of part of my soul.”

“2020 has been a tragic and very difficult year in many ways, with what happened on Jan. 26,” Pelinka said. “And I think Kobe and Gianna have guided this team the entire year. Kobe’s voice is always in my head, always, every day, every minute. And I think to be able to — for LeBron [James], Anthony [Davis], Coach [Frank] Vogel, myself and for Jeanie [Buss], for us to be able to win this championship doesn’t take away the sting of the loss, but what it does is it helps us add to their legacy.”

Pelinka joined the Lakers as GM with Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations in 2017. The two signed James as a free agent in 2018. But in April 2019, Johnson rocked the franchise by shockingly stepping down, later saying that he was tired of the “backstabbing” by Pelinka.

Pelinka took a lot of heat prior to trading for Davis in June 2019. But he never responded to any of Johnson’s accusations, and he and Johnson eventually kept in frequent touch. After the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the championship Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Pelinka called Johnson.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“I still have such gratitude for the two seasons I got to work with Earvin,” Pelinka said. “And he’s definitely a part of tonight with his vision and working side by side. He’s an unbelievable person, and we have a great, incredibly strong relationship. He was one of the first calls tonight. Had a great talk with him.

“But I think what I have learned in life is the hard times or the trials is when you grow, and you turn to your faith, you turn to your family, your loved ones, and more than anything else, I think the lesson that all of us on the inside know is you’ve got to just be about the work.”

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