The stage was set. The Los Angeles Lakers vs the hated Boston Celtics. The place, downtown Los Ageles’ Staples Center. Both teams gave us six epic games. It was a do or die, winner takes all match for franchise supremacy. After Boston controlled most of the game, LA would rally to win game seven 83-79 and repeat as NBA champions. They also avenged a 2008 NBA Finals loss to the Celtics. LA now has 16 NBA championships inching, ever so close to Boston’s 17.
During the game, the Celtics opened with a nine point, first quarter lead, eventually taking a 40-34 halftime lead. LA’s two stars struggled with their shooting as they were combined 6-26 from the field. The team shot just 26.5 percent overall. Boston extended its lead to 13 in the third quarter, when they could’ve easily been up by 30 points with LA’s shooting. The Celtics’ shooting woes would eventually catch up to them.
In the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, Boston could only muster seven points. The Lakers would assert themselves in the fourth quarter by imposing their will on their bitter rival, taking a lead they would never relinquish. Kobe Bryant by his standards had a subpar game. The unlikely hero for LA was Ron Artest. He made clutch shot after clutch shot to keep his team in the game. Three pointers from Artest and Derek Fisher, as well as a two pressure free throws from fan favorite Sasha Vujacic, sealed the deal.
At the end of the game, Kobe Bryant was named Finals MVP for the second straight year and claimed his fifth championship along with Fisher. Coach Phil Jackson broke his own record of 10 championships as a coach with 11. His ring total now stands at 13 (two as a player). With Jackson padding his championship legacy, Kobe has secured his own legacy by winning two without Shaquille O’Neal. By winning five titles in seven Finals appearances and possibly more to come in the near future, Bryant will certainly have his own statue next to Magic Johnson outside of the Staples Center.
Boston fought hard through out the Finals and were worthy opponents. They had one of the best playoff runs in NBA history. Being a fourth seed, Boston wasn’t even picked to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone win it. Who knows…Maybe if Kendrick Perkins didn’t suffer a series ending injury in game six, Boston might have been the ones hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. With that said, how many games would Boston have won if LA had a healthy Andrew Bynum? It would be safe to say that the series probably wouldn’t have gone to a game 7. Even with an injured Bynum, the Cs had problems.
Now that the confetti is gone and the parade is over, LA’s first order of business in the offseason, was accomplished on July 2 when Phil Jackson informed the club that he will be returning to make another title run. Health was the main issue in his decision. Second order of business is to try to get a more reliable shooter. This will be key in making another championship run. Now that the free agency period has arrived, Lakers owner Jerry Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak has some tough decisions to endure. At the end of the day, they will make the right choice. Look for the Lake Show to be in the mix next season.
By Keith Madyun