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NBA Finals: Lakers don't want to 'let down' Kobe Bryant in close out of Heat

Anthony Davis (3) and the Los Angeles Lakers want to move to 5-0 while wearing Kobe Bryant edition jerseys (pictured) this postseason when they face the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE
Anthony Davis (3) and the Los Angeles Lakers want to move to 5-0 while wearing Kobe Bryant edition jerseys (pictured) this postseason when they face the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Friday in Orlando, Fla. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Lakers will wear special edition Kobe Bryant-inspired jerseys in Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals Friday. Lakers players said they don't want to disappoint the late NBA legend by losing.

Los Angeles has a 3-1 series lead and can win the title with a victory Friday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex inside the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. The game starts at 9 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast on ABC.

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"Obviously, his legacy in the NBA and then just with the organization, period, is something special," Lakers forward Anthony Davis told reporters Thursday. "For us to close it out in his honor is something that we look forward to.

"[There is] an insane amount of pressure, but we don't want to lose, we don't want to let him down. Every time we lose in the jerseys, we feel like we've let him down."

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The Lakers have a 4-0 record when they have worn the "Black Mamba" uniforms. Bryant -- who had the nickname the "Black Mamba" -- and his daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26 in Calabasas, Calif.

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Lakers players have said throughout the season they wanted to dedicate the campaign to Bryant.

Davis even yelled "Kobe" after he made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in a win over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.

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The Lakers debuted the "Black Mamba" jerseys in a game played exactly two years before Bryant's death. The black tribute uniforms have gold trim, letters and numbers. They also feature a snakeskin print.

"It means something more than just a uniform," Lakers forward LeBron James said. "It represents an individual who gave the franchise 20 years of his blood, sweat and tears and his dedication to his craft, both on and off the floor, to make that franchise be proud of him."

Bryant played for the Lakers from 1996 through 2015. The 18-time All-Star won five championships with the franchise.

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James is in position to win his fourth NBA title and third championship with his third different team. Los Angeles is also one win away from tying the Boston Celtics for an NBA franchise record 17 championships.

James has averaged a series-high 27.8 points, 11 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. Heat forward Jimmy Butler has kept his team in the series, despite key injuries to Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

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Butler had a triple-double performance to power the Heat to a Game 3 win, which prevented the possibility of a Lakers series sweep. He has averaged 27.5 points, 10 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game this series.

Davis has posted 25.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and has shot 54% from 3-point range. His versatility has stretched out the Heat defense and allowed the Lakers to control the series.

Adebayo is expected to play on Friday. Dragic -- the Heat's leading scorer throughout the playoffs -- remains doubtful due to a torn left plantar fascia.

"This is everything that we wanted, an opportunity to compete for a title against a great team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We never thought that it was going to be easy. That's the way this playoff system is designed."

Thousands attend memorial for Kobe Bryant

Former NBA star Michael Jordan gave a tearful tribute, saying Kobe Bryant was a like a little brother to him. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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