The series went only five games, but was much closer than that. The Magic blew late leads in Game Two and Game Four, which should have extended the season.
But they didn’t, and the Lakers came out victorious. The title was the fourth for Kobe and the tenth for Phil Jackson, both historic ones for each man.
For Kobe, this has been a long time coming. The media has not stopped talking about how Kobe has not won a title without Shaq after Shaq won one with Dwayne Wade and the Heat in 2006. Those talks can finally stop now, and thank God. It was getting to the point where you couldn’t say Kobe Bryant without no titles. without Shaq coming up.
The most relieved person. however. is Kobe Bryant. He averaged 32.4 points per game and was named Finals MVP.
“It was like Chinese water torture,” he said. “I would cringe every time. I was just like, it’s a challenge I’m just going to have to accept because there’s no way I’m going to argue it. You can say it until you’re blue in the face and rationalize it until you’re blue in the face, but it’s not going anywhere until you do something about it.”
After losing to the Celtics last year in the finals, the Lakers (especially Bryant) were feeling the pressure to win this year. If Kobe failed to win again this year, the lambasting would reach an all-time high. But Kobe was on a mission this year. He was determined to win the title and he wasn’t going to let anything get in his way.
Watching Kobe during the playoffs was interesting. Anytime you saw him, he never had a smile on his face. He was so serious the entire time. He seemed like he was no longer enjoying the game and the game was becoming “work” for him. After Game Two, when they were up 2-0 against the Magic in the postgame press conference, when asked if he was happy, Kobe responded “What’s there to be happy about? The job’s not finished.”
It wasn’t, but that shows just how badly Kobe wanted this title. He admitted the no-title-without-Shaq talk got to him, but it seems like it was eating at him inside. Kobe cleared this hurdle and when the final buzzer sounded, we could see that a 300 pound boulder (Shaq) fell off his back. He jumped in the air, throwing his arms up in joy. He knew that it was over and he could finally relax and enjoy it, knowing no one could question his legacy anymore.
Here is what Kobe said of the situation: “I was just completely locked in,” he said. “I was grumpy for a while and now I’m just ecstatic, like a kid in a candy store.”
Now Kobe has his title without Shaq to go along with Shaq’s title without Kobe. We no longer have to hear any of this nonsense but it probably won’t be long before all the Kobe and MJ comparisons start to take over.