Out of Bounds: The Final Chapter

I honestly thought this column would be easy – like cracking a joke about Glen Davis, who unashamedly tried to eat his own face during Game 4. I foolishly believed the right words would effortlessly splash on the page, perfectly illustrating the magnitude of an NBA Finals victory over the detestable Celtics.

In hindsight, I probably should have taken a queue from Paul Pierce about making premature assumptions.

It was a game that was instantly carved into history – one that produced a record smashing 3,085 tweets per second on Twitter and gave the NBA its best TV ratings since MJ was winning championships more than a decade ago.

For the younger fans, it was the physical manifestation of a historic rivalry only witnessed through the words of the NBA legends lucky enough to be a part of it. For the older fans, it was simply another gripping chapter in the lifelong story of Boston vs. Los Angeles. For every member of the Lakers Nation, it was a series, and a final game, that pushed us to the brink of devastation, only to leave us on the mountain top of exhilaration.

It took a taxing Game 7 vs. Boston to finally answer the lingering questions that have surrounded the ’10 Lakers all season long.

Ron put an end to the Ariza vs. Artest debate with a smothering defensive performance against Paul Pierce (5 total FG’s) and an unexpected 20-points, including the biggest 3-point basket in recent Lakers history.

Pau Gasol officially discarded the Pau Gasoft label, capping off an MVP-caliber NBA Finals (19/12/3) with 19 points and 18 rebounds, including an enormous offensive board over Rajon Ronda in the closing minute of the game.

Kobe Bryant answered a career-long accusation of selfishness, heavily trusting his teammates on an awful shooting night (25%, 6/24) to carry him through the most important game of his 13-year career.

The Staples Center crowd responded to NBA-wide allegations of apathy and indifference, blowing the roof off the building during a fourth quarter that several media outlets called the loudest Lakers crowd ever.

Most importantly, the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers punched back in defiance against a 51-year chronicle blemished by failure at the hands of the insufferable Boston Celtics. This championship Lakers team was the hinge of history – the ones who will long be remembered for emphatically slamming the door on an era of Boston owns L.A. sentiment.

Left in the wake of an invigorating NBA Finals is the legendary status of Kobe Bryant – a polarizing superstar who is loved in Los Angeles, but loathed in many other parts of the Country. Staying consistent with his career, Bryant only inflamed the greatness debate. In one corner, he added another NBA Finals MVP (his second) and grabbed his fifth championship ring. In the other corner, he shot just over 40% for the series and notched a dreadful 6/24 (25%) in the most important game of his life.

Fair or unfair, Bryant has always been held up to the Jordan standard – in the case of the ’10 Finals, the comparison is surprisingly relevant.

When you look back on Michael Jordan in the ’98 NBA Finals (his sixth and final championship), you probably remember a lot of what I do. The baseline strip of Karl Malone… The game winning shot over a stumbling Byron Russell… The vintage M.J. fist pump as the clock expired.

Classic Jordan.

What you likely don’t remember is that Michael clanged 20 shots before he buried that game winner (with only 1 assist and 1 rebound)… that he had a 9/26 shooting performance in a Game 5 loss… that he shot over 45% just once in those six games vs. Utah.

Sports history has a way of immortalizing its legends – Kobe Bryant’s performance in the ’10 NBA Finals, as well as this entire Lakers team, will be no different.

In 2030, we won’t remember that D-Fish struggled all season… we will remember his legendary performance in Game 3. We won’t remember that Ron shot 5 for a million from downtown in the playoffs… we will remember the one he buried in the final minute of Game 7. We won’t remember that Shannon Brown only scored 21 total points in 6 Finals games… we will remember the 4 he scored on invigorating dunks in Game 6.

The history books will write only one defining statement about 2010: The Los Angeles Lakers, back-to-back NBA champions.

Enjoy it, Lakers Nation. You earned it.

Jason Riley is the executive director of LakerNation.com. He also pens a regular opinion column, Out of Bounds, and is the co-host of Voice of the Nation: Fastbreak. He currently splits his time in Los Angeles, CA and Carlsbad, CA.
  • http://www.kaley-cuoco.info Jack / Kaley-Cuoco.info

    Well said! Good points about MJ. It seems a lot of our younger audience (who did not follow MJ and the Bulls religiously) seem to get the idea that MJ was indestructible, and that he could not miss a shot. That’s totally not true.

  • bdmf

    LAKERS!!!
    BOSTON SUCKS

  • SunnyC

    Hmmmm… Kobe might had a 25% shooting night total but all I saw then was the 4 points he did after Fish got the score even at 64 and eventually change his approached by bring the ball to the basket cuz the perimeter shot was making it. The total 10 points Kobe did during 4th quarter was still is a closer definition. Kobe is till the best closer when the game is in question. A lot more to come. MJ is MJ, Kobe is Kobe.

    • SunnyC

      ops … perimeter shot is__NOT__making it

  • lakerville213

    tln loves jason riley…

    ive never found a lakers championship as sweet as this one…go lakers and lets do it again next year

  • espinoza5439

    Good ending to the season

  • domz

    Of course, MJ supporters would always remember the big shots Michael has made but will surely see how Kobe struggled in Game 7 of 2010 Finals. In contrary to that, Kobe fans will never forget how Kobe manages to get 15 rebounds and still be a factor despite his poor shooting performance against Boston.

  • 09-10-11champs!

    Still feels like a dream. This past 4 days have been just great with a back to back defeating Boston in a game 7, to listening to Ron´s performance in his press conferences, to yet another parade. SURREAL.

    And please, during the offseason, there are a lot of rumors about trades and free agency, but please, no more VUJABRICK, FARTMORE, FLUKE, ODUMB comments, these are the guys that good or bad, have done something for our team that is working, and the results are 2 straight championships.
    So I know its fun to think that every big name player is coming to our team, and i would definately pursue T-Mac, but dont start to bash the players that helped us get where we´re at trying to give them away for Chris Bosh or Lebron, because it simply wont happen ;)

  • ARLEY

    Well said. This report sent chills down my spine. Lakers for life baby! (BTW, MJ was the greatest player of his time & KB24 is the GREATEST player of his time, which happens to be NOW!)

  • Nikko72

    Nice write-up Jason.
    MJ comparison needed some attention for so many present fans who dislike Kobe/Lakers and glorify MJ more and more. Some say the 2 cannot be compared. Why not? same type of players. Even built the same. The similarities between the two are so identical sometimes it feels like the two are cognates. (ok maybe not to that extend) ..but it’s fun to compare nevertheless, even if it’s with levity. Just ’cause Kobe riles up feathers wherever he goes doesn’t mean we can’t accentuate their performances.
    To me what I will remember the most is D-Fish’s intrepid game 3 performance. We lose that game and we’d be hearing how indomitable the Celtics were from the pundits. Sadly we cannot rely on him too much for next season. He’s aged and most of the load of the regular season needs to put off him, but that’s a gag for some other time. Right now we continue to cherish this climatic victory.
    Let’s prevail for a 3-peat!

  • Tecun85

    Another great ending to a fantastic season, this is the way it should be. Have a great summer Laker fans, and we’ll see all of you here on July 1st to see what goes down, who moves, and who we pick up. Lakers 2010 champs, back to back!!

  • Zeki Kayiran

    Very nicely done.

    It is also so sweet to see the Celtic fans being reduced to declaring their losers the 2010 Champions. Dream on.

    As far as the MJ shot over Bryan Russell, he got so free to shoot the ball because he clearly pushed Russell, which he should have been called for an offensive foul.

  • LakerFanIam

    Nice article…
    I for one have no need to compare Kobe to MJ.
    I consider myself fortunate that I’ve been able to experience both in my lifetime.

    This championship; however, was about the Lakers. Definitely the most satisfying title in Laker history.

  • wbgk

    MJ was one of the greatest players ever in the league.
    His scoringtitles, MVP awards, all-star performances and of course the championships.
    Now KB is also arguably one of the greatest players ever. What defines the greatness of players?
    I mean, the greatest champion ever, Bill Russel (11 time champion) is hardly mentioned is this debate.
    Maybe because MJ and Kobe are part of the modern basketball that changed the game. And whether you think MJ is the best ever or KB is the best ever (or whoever you’re rooting for), what we can all agree on is that Kobe definitely has put his stamp on this basketbalera.
    Just look at the finals appearances and championships. The last 10 years the Lakers have been to the finals 7 times and won 5!
    And next year…..next year Kobe will be back to try to lead the Lakers to another three peat!

  • ThefishthatsavedLA

    The Los Angeles Lakers, back-to-back NBA champions.!
    HOW SWEET IT IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • UWEEE

    every great player has his own time……this generation belongs to KOBE………….so who’s next?

  • lakerlicious

    Kobe’s D was key in game 7!