by: Kristian Winfield
Published: June 18th, 2010
Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif. – The smell of champagne and a hard day’s work wafted throughout the Lakers’ locker room and the fans cheered until they could no more.
Kobe kissed his wife and embraced his children, and Ron Artest ran around the court, singing and screaming at the top of his voice while grasping the fruits of their success.
Los Angeles defeated the Boston Celtics in a historic seven game series for the 2010 NBA Championship last night.
The game dragged on for three quarters, as Boston continuously blew double-digit leads thanks to the unlikely, but very timely offense of Ron Artest, who stepped up when Kobe went cold, going 5-20 before the fourth. Artest had 14 points through three quarters.
But as usual, the brightest stars shine in the fourth quarter, and Kobe did just that. With approximately 2 minutes left in the fourth, Sheed knocked down a contested three to bring Boston within three points. On the ensuing play, Artest knocked down a three to put the Lakers back up by six, and began blowing kisses to the crowd.
“I knocked down that three, just like he told me,” said Artest after the game.”What a perfect time to blow kisses at the crowd! What a shot. What a shot. I always wanted to hit a shot like that. That’s why I took that shot.”
But the game wasn’t over after THAT shot.
Ray Allen caught the ball in his corner hot spot and nailed a three to bring the game within three points once again. It looked as though Kobe would be the savior once again. He trotted up the court and jacked a deep three but was short. Pau Gasol was there, once again, to clean up his mess. He gave the ball back to Kobe who got fouled and knocked down two clutch free throws to put the Lakers up 81-76.
“I can’t say enough about the Spaniard. We wouldn’t have won without him.” Kobe said after the game.
The Spaniard, Pau Gasol, ended up with 19 points, and an astounding 18 rebounds.
But as history shows, the Celtics never go away. Ray Allen came up court and pulled up for a three. He missed, but Rondo grabbed the offensive board and nailed a three to bring the Celtics within two. Phil Jackson called a timeout and brought in Sasha Vujacic, an 88% free throw shooter, which proved to be yet another clutch move. Vujacic was fouled on the imbound and knocked down both free throws to put the Lakers back up by four.
LA was determined to keep Boston down. Their stifling defense on the imbound forced Rondo into a contested three point shot which resulted in an airball. The Lakers were back to back champions, defeating the Celtics 83-79.
“This is the sweetest,” Kobe said after the game “It’s the sweetest because it was against THEM and we were down 3-2.”
Kobe finished with a game-high 23 points and 15 rebounds. But more importantly, he left Staples Center with the Bill Russell MVP trophy for the NBA Finals 2010.
Artest was so overjoyed, he couldn’t finish his interview. He shouted out his family, and his “‘hood”
and carried on. Who could blame him? His 20 points, 5 rebounds, and critical 5 steals deserved the most energetic of emotions. It was definitely his best game as a Laker this season, and what a time to perform.
“Ron Artest was the most valuable player tonight,” Jackson said. “He brought life to our team, he brought life to the crowd.”
And who can forget Mr. Much-in-the-Clutch, Derek Fisher? He shot the incredible, well-contested, deep three pointer that tied the game at 64 and sparked an 11-0 run for the Lakers midway through the 4th quarter.
“That’s just who he is,” Bryant said. “There’s not enough words of praise that I can use to describe him and how I feel about him.”
Fisher finished the game with 10 points and 2 assists.
The Lakers’ locker room was buzzing after the game, but it was the exact opposite in the Celtics’.
Emotions ran high among the Celtics, as they realized that they had just lost what might be their last opportunity at an NBA Championship in a long time.
“Well there’s a lot of crying in our locker room, a lot of people who care,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “I don’t think there was a dry eye. A lot of hugs, a lot of people feeling awful.”
In the loss, 5 players hit double figures, Paul Pierce leading the way with 18 points and 10 rebounds. KG was right behind him with 17 points, and Rondo was third with 14 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds.
The Celtics were thought to be at a disadvantage with the injury of Kendrick Perkins in Game 6, but Rasheed Wallace impressively filled his role, providing offense and another big body in the paint. He finished with 11 points, 8 reboounds, and 2 blocks before fouling out in the 4th quarter.
Perhaps one of the most emotional players was Ray Allen.
“This is probably one of the hardest feelings I’ve felt in my lifetime,” Allen said.
He finished with 13 points and 3 steals.
After the majority of the first round of celebrations came to a close, Kobe came to the stand for a press conference.
“Umm, I just wanted it so bad. Wanted it so, so bad. On top of that I was on E. I was really, really tired. And the more i tried to push, the more it kept getting away from me. I’m just glad that my teammates got us back into the game. I was thankful that i was able to make one damn shot at the end of the game, and make some free throws,” said Kobe. ” I had to do something. So I had to rebound the ball. Rebounding was a big key for us. It was a big focus for me. it’s Whatever it takes to win the game, you gotta do whatever it takes. That’s my job. Sometimes shots aren’t gonna fall but you gotta figure something out to try to help your team win, and nobody was better at it than MJ.”
The best question of the night, by far, came from a journalist who asked, “We know what is means as a team, but what does it mean individually to you?”
Bryant responded, ” I just got one more than Shaq. So you can take that to the bank!”