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.
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.