Magic Johnson Says Lakers Made Kobe Bryant 'Very Proud in Heaven' with NBA Title Win
While appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Thursday afternoon, the five-time NBA champion spoke about some of his favorite moments with Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January, along with the 41-year-old's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
Johnson, 61, recalled was giving Bryant some advice ahead of the 2010 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. He also opened up about details of the sweet exchange the pals shared after the Lakers dominated the Celtics in Game 7 that year.
"I think just winning all the championships," Johnson told host Ellen DeGeneres. "I told him when we faced the Boston Celtics ... I told him, 'The hardest championship you would ever win is beating the Boston Celtics.' "
"So, right after we won that Game 7, he hugged me and said, ‘Man, Magic, you were right. This is so difficult to beat these Boston Celtics because they never beat themselves.’ And we had so many great moments like that — just us — him and I together," the retired NBA star said, adding, "talking about business, talking about life, talking about being husbands, being fathers. I enjoyed every single moment, just talking to Kobe."
Johnson also touched on the stellar year for sports in Los Angeles, with the Lakers bringing home another NBA Championship title and then the Los Angeles Dodgers securing their first World Series in 32 years.
"32 years! It took us a long time. But, you know, I was actually a part of, 32 years ago, when my Lakers won the NBA championship and the Dodgers won 1988," said Johnson, who is a co-owner of the Dodgers. "And now, just winning this year, again both teams — it was great for the city."
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The former Laker went on to praise his team for the work they put in while at the NBA bubble in Florida this season.
"The Lakers went down there on a mission. They dedicated the season to Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter, who both passed away. They made Kobe very proud in heaven, and I’m sure he was just so happy with what the boys did … winning the NBA championship," he said.
"We still miss him, all basketball fans, all Lakers fans. We still miss Kobe Bryant and just hope his wife and his other daughters are doing fine," Johnson added.
Johnson recently spoke to PEOPLE about the Lakers' big win, saying it was well deserved after this past year.
"The Lakers winning the NBA Championship means so much to the city of Los Angeles," he said. "To lose Laker legend Kobe Bryant early this year and then deal with the many effects of COVID-19, this was a tough year for Lakers to rise and win."