ORLANDO, Fla. — Through the darkness and drama, the questions about whether the Lakers’ luster was gone forever, remained the hope that a day like this would happen again.
A championship. Confetti sprayed all over the court. A superstar puffing a cigar, grinning at what he’d done.
This time they did it in a gym shaped like Mickey Mouse with two superstars who came to resuscitate the franchise. Anthony Davis came because of LeBron James.
At the end of a strange, heartbreaking season — the longest NBA season ever — James won his fourth championship. He notched a triple-double in the clinching game — his first of the series — with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. He earned Finals most valuable player honors for the fourth time in his career.
“I told Jeanie when I came here I was going to put this franchise back in the position that it belongs,” James said. “… We just want our respect, Rob wants his respect, coach Vogel wants his respect, the organization wants their respect, Laker nation wants their respect.
“I want my damn respect too.”
This title didn’t look like the rest. It didn’t happen at home or on the road; it happened at Disney World. There weren’t fans, hostile or friendly; there wasn’t a familiar ride to an arena. There was just basketball in a bubble that protected them from a global pandemic that gripped the nation. They remained on this campus in Florida, steeling themselves for a mentally taxing existence, aided by the knowledge of their grander mission.