One year ago, the Lakers walked off of TD Banknorth Garden with green confetti falling on them and Queen playing in the background. The frustration in Kobe Bryant's eyes was evident after he was delivered a 39-point championship clinching beatdown by the hands of the Celtics.
This year, Kobe was a man on a mission.
The self-proclaimed Black Mamba was near silent in all press conferences. He rarely had a smile on his face, and he spent what appeared to be every waking hour preparing for this Finals series.
Kobe had played for nearly three straight years nonstop due to his decision to play for Team USA. He was obviously exhausted, but he was not about to let it get in his way.
When asked about potentially hitting "a wall" and not being able to perform at a high level he responded:
"As far as me hitting the wall, so what if I did? I didn't, but so what if I did?....I'll run straight through it."
It was evident that nothing was going to get in Kobe's way in his quest for a championship ring he could call his own.
The Magic would try, but the Lakers, unlike the Cavaliers, had a cast who could support Kobe.
In Game 1, Kobe had the best Finals performance of his career by putting up 40 points and delivering a one-man run in the third quarter. No matter who they put on him, Kobe would still score with ease.
Born from Kobe's sensational third quarter was a new look: The Kobe scowl.
So the Lakers rolled to a 100-75 victory in Game 1, but the Magic had a history of bouncing back.
Game 2 started off as a bore. Neither team could get their offensive play going, and after one quarter, the game was tied at 15.
Soon, however, these two offensive-minded teams started to get going.
It became a shootout.
Both teams weren't giving up an inch, and at the end of regulation, Kobe would have a chance to win it. The best closer in the game attacked left, passed Turkoglu, then pulled up.
However, the ball did not go anywhere.
Turkoglu blocked the shot from behind and called a quick timeout, giving the Magic one last opportunity to win the game.
Stan Van Gundy drew up a terrific play, which resulted in Courtney Lee having a wide open layup to win it. This was Lee's, a rookie out of Western Kentucky, opportunity to be a part of NBA history, but he missed the shot and the game went into overtime, where the Lakers pulled out the 101-96 win.
The Magic weren't quite down trodden yet. They were a resilient team all season long and knew they could win Game 3 at home.
Game 3 would be a duel, but the Magic would rely on the best shooting performance in NBA finals history (62.5 percent) to carry them to victory.
Despite this shooting performance, something was wrong. The Magic's three-pointers, their bread and butter, were taken away by the Lakers.
Without their most powerful weapon, how could Orlando hope to win?
It would have to fall on Dwight Howard's shoulders.
Sadly, the player known as Superman wasn't having great offensive outings in The Finals. Howard was held to under 50 percent from the field, and he couldn't knock down his free throws.
In fact, missed free throws would go on to give the Lakers complete control of the series in Game 4.
With only 11.1 seconds on the clock, Dwight Howard was sent to the free throw line with a chance to put the Magic up by five and ice the game. He would miss both, giving the Lakers a chance to tie.
Phil Jackson made the unorthodox move of inbounding the ball from the back court. Derek Fisher was trusted to bring the ball up the floor and knock down a three-pointer to force overtime, and he did so in the face of Jameer Nelson.
Neither team could get their offense going in overtime. The game was tied at 91 with only 30 seconds to go. Kobe was double teamed, so he trusted Derek Fisher to knock down another gigantic three-pointer.
Fisher delivered a dagger into the hearts of the Orlando Magic. Dwight Howard's club knew the NBA finals were over.
The Magic did come out strong to start Game 5, but after a quick start, it was all Lakers from there.
Adam Morrison finally won his first championship.
So ends one of the best NBA postseasons ever. There were more great moments in the first two rounds of these playoffs than the last two playoffs combined. David Stern should be very happy with the way these playoffs transpired.
It may be a while before there is another postseason with this much excitement.