LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – LeBron James took note when the Los Angeles Lakers built an early 24-8 lead over the Trail Blazers on Kobe Bryant Day.
“OK, he's here in the building,” James said he thought in the moment, when the two numbers that Bryant wore during his career appeared on the scoreboard.
The Los Angeles Lakers dominated Portland the rest of the way Monday night, winning 135-115 to take a 3-1 advantage in their playoff series.
James had 30 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes before heading to the bench late in the third quarter. The Lakers led by as many as 38 points for their third straight win in the opening-round series, the team's first playoff appearance since 2013.
After the game, James detailed the emotional burden of both honoring Bryant and coping with the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I can’t even enjoy a playoff win right now, which is the sad part,” he said.
James spoke at length about the shooting, which has sparked violent protests. Blake, who remained hospitalized on Monday, was shot, apparently in the back, as he leaned into his SUV while his three children sat in the vehicle.
“We are scared as Black people in America,” James said. “Black men, Black women, Black kids. We are, we are terrified.”