Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

It’s been said that you can live your whole life in one manner, stray from it for just a single moment, and be judged by that moment for the rest of your life. History is not a record of lengthy accounts; it’s a record of defining moments. If you think about it, we only read a story if the ending is worthy of enduring the journey it took to get there. Why suffer through the expedition if the destination is never realized?

The Los Angeles Lakers are on the threshold of history – A chance to erase the bitter memories of last years’ NBA Finals. Perfectly interlaced in the Lakers story awaits a surplus of subplots anxiously waiting to be defined.

For Phil Jackson – A chance to separate himself from Red Auerbach in the history books and be remembered as the most successful coach in NBA History.

For Pau Gasol – A chance to shed his growing number of critics and be remembered as the final piece missing in the Lakers Championship puzzle.

For Mitch Kupchak – A chance to step out of the shadow of his mentor Jerry West and stand alone as the sole architect behind a Championship Lakers’ team.

A lot is on the line for the Lakers; and as much as an NBA championship would mean to the city of Los Angeles and the Lakers’ organization, it would mean much more to Kobe Bryant. Nobody has more riding on the outcome of these NBA Finals than he does. What happens over the next several days will write as much about his legacy as anything he has accomplished, or failed to accomplish, leading up to this point.

Number 24 is just four wins away from admonishing his critics without having to say a single word. A ring would silence those who say he can’t win a championship as the best player on his team. Who say he can’t put a team on his back and carry them to the promised land. Who say he doesn’t deserve to be mentioned amongst the greatest players in the history of this game.

A ring would discard the selfish label, and demolish the polarizing lens that the sports world has viewed him under for the last decade. It would be the perfect conclusion to a historic 24-month run; one that would include an MVP Award, a Gold Medal in Beijing, back-to-back NBA Finals appearances, a fourth NBA championship ring and most likely, his first NBA Finals MVP award.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers will start their battle with the Orlando Magic for the NBA Championship. Along with D-Howard and company, the Lakers will contend with the ghosts of last years’ collapse against the Boston Celtics. They will fight against the pressure of being heavy favorites and owning home-court advantage. And most daunting of all, the Lakers will stare history in the face and have the rare opportunity to alter it forever.

I once heard someone say, “History will speak kindly of me, for I am writing it.” For Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, the page is blank and their pens are ready.

Be sure to grab a good seat; because history is about to be written.

Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, look him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter for in-game coverage.

  • 123kid

    nicely written! it was like poetry. and i would say this would be a defining moment for lakernation.com. we’re a fan based that has stuck with the lakers from the time of getgarnett.com to possible acquisitions of J.O. and Kidd to the actual acquisition of Pau to the call out of Bynum by Kobe to a disappointing finals last year and then to a year of trying to get back to the finals. and now that the lakers are back here and have another shot, i just want them to win it so badly that words just cant explain how badly i want them to take it!

  • DYNASTYLA24

    As always it was a pleasure = ) GO LAKERS!!!!!

  • http://yahoo.com markco2

    BREAKING NEWS: The LAPD has issued an arrest warrant for Kobe Bryant in connection with the murders of the entire Denver Nuggets team. The brutal act took place last night on McNuggets’ home court in front of 20,000 embarrassed fans and millions of viewers on live TV. Autopsy reports indicate victims showed no signs of a struggle. Beware, this man shoots to kill and will definitely strike again in the near future. According to the Nuggets’ own coach, not even Jesus can guard him.

  • lakerschamps-09

    great story..that was awesome.. good work… go lakers

  • cass05

    That was well written! When Kobe gets his 4th ring, I’m going to shed some happy tears! I love the Lakers! GO LAKE SHOW! It’s Show Time! :) Lakers in 6!

  • James

    That was very, very well written and I have to agree with 123kid “It was like poetry”. Yes it is time to write history and I can’t wait to sit back and watch as it is written with a “GOLDEN PEN” :)

  • http://am570rado.com phil buss

    [Comment ID #73952 Will Be Quoted Here]

    LMAO….too funny

  • http://myspace.com/badlatinmutha JohnJohn

    Good Shi-stuff. This aint the end of it fellas. We got a threepete on the horizon.

  • will

    one of the greatest blogs I’ve read in a while, good job!

  • WatWudChickSay? (WWCS?)

    Ja-Ri, you are headed for bigger things. It is a pleasure to read your writing. I look forward to seeing you write for a larger audience, but I’m glad we got to see your start here on Lakers’ Nation.

    As for the Lakers, it is ALL on the line: lose, and they head into Buffalo Bills territory; win, and they head into Laker Lore.

    I do disagree with your belief that a win in the Finals this year erases the horror of last year. Nothing can erase that series, particularly since it came at the hands of the Lakers’ nemisis, the Celtics.

    Still, getting banner #15 up in the Staples rafters will be a unquestioned vindication of the idea that the Lakers’ franchise is THE franchise in the NBA, confirming them as the NBA equivalent of the Yankees (like ‘em or hate ‘em).

  • Gio

    Lakers history has been written in this post season. Through the struggles and adversity faced in these last series with the Jazz, Rockets & Nuggets, they have proved to be able to call on the strengths they need to overcome. The Magic are a great opponent, but as long as the team play the great inside out ball we play, feed our big men in the paint and have the bench mob come in with the same passion as the starters, we will survive and become the Champions we all know the Lakers are… GO LAKERS!!! I agree in 6!

  • ricky

    LeBron can do just about everything on the court. He has size, speed, quickness, strength and vision. His physical attributes are matched by only a few. He is a fabulous player with good leadership and the ability to make his teammates better. Because of this, he is tagged as the “KING” and is beloved by the media.

    However…on the flip side, Kobe is the real KING of the court!!!

    Kobe does everything and does it well. Somethings are done so well it’s AMAZING!!! Looking at highlights from games 5 and 6 against Denver truly shows how much better Kobe is overall to LeBron. He can choose to focus on one thing and he can excel in it, and he can do multiple things and excel as well.

    In my truest and most honest opinion Kobe is KING, here is a check list of sorts of a few things of what both plays can and can’t do in comparison.

    1. Shooting: Kobe > LeBron

    2. Passing: Kobe is a very underrated passer, watch some highlights if you don’t believe me.

    3. Dunking: LeBron only knows how to tomahawk, Kobe does that and then some, also underrated dunker.

    4. Speed: Kobe is very quick, he’s just getting a bit old so give the man a break.

    5. Strength: Though not as physically intimidating as LeBron, Kobe is pretty strong himself. His strength shows most when it comes to persistence.

    6. Footwork: Kobe > Lebron

    7. All-around perimeter game: Kobe > LeBron

    8. Post game: Does LeBron even have a post game? Kobe always takes advantage if given one, LeBron mostly scores off of screens and drives. Don’t see much of him in the post unless he’s going in for a dunk or layup.

    It’s easy to see how Kobe, at the end of the day, is still the better player skill wise by far. That’s what it comes down to, skills and Kobe’s skills are unparalleled at this time. LeBron will be great, but there will never be a player like Kobe for a long while. Kobe = MJ more so than LBJ, no one comes closer to MJ than Kobe ever.

  • WifelovesLuke

    Nicely worded Jason! One of your best of the year.

  • David

    well written!! Lets go lakes show kobe deserves this ring , As do Lamar, Pau ,Fish, ariza,brown, luke , mbenga and most of all phil , L.A. , lakernation , mitch, jack , and the late chick hearn!! lets go lakers!!

  • Al The Laker fan you should meet

    really good article!..Lets go Lakers !!!

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