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Two Champions, One City

Two Champions, One City

“Man can we please have a parade!!! LA is the city of champions”, Lebron James tweeted at 9:12 p.m. on Oct. 27, the night the Dodgers won the World Series, just two weeks after the Lakers claimed their championship. For the first time since 1988, Los Angeles has reigned supreme in the world of sports as both the Lakers and Dodgers earned their crowns in their respective fields.

While this year has been incredibly unprecedented, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have managed to find a way to safely play and bring a sense of normalcy and excitement to the homes of fans.

For the Lakers, this season has been a windy road of patiently waiting for a plan. A plan to play, win, and bring home a ring in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. Prior to a round of games, on March 11, 2020, it was announced that a Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, subsequently leading the NBA to announce a suspension of the rest of the season until it is deemed safe to play again. While players waited months for a decision to be made, finally on June 26, the NBA and players’ union agreed to a quarantine plan that sent 22 teams to Orlando, Florida to finish the season at the Disney World Sports Complex, now also known as the NBA Bubble.

While isolated from the rest of the world and inside the NBA Bubble, the Lakers have endured tough battles without the energetic stadium atmosphere. Powering through each of their games against Portland and Houston, and finally beating Denver in the finals, the Lakers were named the Western Conference Champions. This victory advanced them to the NBA finals against the underdogs of the playoffs, the Miami Heat.

The Lakers snatched their 17th NBA Championship on October 11, after an overall 4-2 game defeat against the Miami Heat. Lebron James was awarded his fourth Finals MVP title, as well as being crowned champion for the fourth time within his 17-year career. Despite these career-defining achievements, James was not the only player dominating the court. Anthony Davis had 19 points and 15 rebounds in the deciding game with veterans Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo crucially adding to the final score. 

The six thrilling games between the Lakers and the Heat, raised hopes that another Los Angeles team, the Dodgers would hopefully bring home another dazzling achievement in the form of a World Series win.

With their Tuesday night win in Game 6 of the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Dodgers finally ended a decades-long championship drought. Since the start of spring training, the Dodgers were favored to win the World Series, until the season came to a halt less than a month later due to Covid-19. Through continuous negotiating between the MLB and the MLB Players Association, the new start of the 2020 season was set for July 23.

Similar to the NBA Bubble, the entirety of the World Series took place at Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. This bubble was again designed to minimize exposure to coronavirus while allowing players to participate in key games. The six-game battle between the Dodgers and Rays was suspenseful due to the back and forth, with the Dodgers winning game one, three, and five, and ultimately game six. 

Although safety precautions for COVID-19 were taken throughout the postseason, a major scare occurred during the final game as Justin Turner, third baseman of the Dodgers was removed from the game in the eighth inning, initially with no explanation. It was later revealed that Turner’s test result came back as positive for coronavirus. With players being tested daily in Arlington, Turner was the first major leaguer to test positive. Although Turner, a key player, was immediately removed from the game, the Dodgers were still able to carry out their much-deserved win.

Back at home in Los Angeles, it rained blue and white as the city celebrated the Dodger’s well-earned victory. With this championship, Los Angeles has secured two crowns in one month. These victories further prove the deep-rooted tenacity and determination this city has to prevail during the unparalleled year of 2020.

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In January, the devastating loss of Kobe Bryant, along with eight others, including his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash not only shook the world of basketball but the world as a whole. Starting the year off in such a heartbreaking way provided the Lakers with even more of a reason to work hard in honor of Bryant and the lives lost. Since then, a whole pandemic has erupted and a paramount movement against racial injustice has consumed those who are rising up to fight. The two wins have lifted the spirits of those who have experienced ups and downs that have occurred throughout the year. Bethley Honma who is a Los Angeles native and lifelong fan of both the Lakers and Dodgers explains the emotions she felt after the wins, 

“I’ve been a huge fan of the Lakers and Dodgers ever since I was little so having them both win championships within weeks of each other was crazy. When the Lakers won, I felt so excited and I could tell others felt that excitement too. It just seemed like people were happier and cheerful. And then two weeks later, the Dodgers also won which was insane. The wins really felt like LA’s spirits were lifted up and a small piece of normalcy was given back to us as everyone celebrated”. 

With the turbulence of 2020, Los Angeles gaining a basketball and baseball championship within two weeks of each other is something worth celebrating. Even with Bryant’s passing, the Lakers have once again proved to both LA and the nation that in the toughest of moments, they are able to experience and overcome great sadness and heartache. The Dodgers World Series win is a bonus to an already commendable time. Such wins serve as a beacon of hope for Los Angeles.

What an honor it was to experience the greatness of the Lakers, the Dodgers, and Los Angeles, but an even greater honor to have witnessed the strength and brilliance of Kobe Bryant.

“We found purpose in crippling heartbreak, tenacity when the world was turned upside down, and courage in the face of prolonged justice… We are a city of fighters – a city of champions” – Los Angeles Lakers

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