In 1969, Jerry West would win the NBA Finals MVP award. Unfortunately for him, on the other side stood Bill Russell. Russell, ending his career as probably the best player of all-time at that point, led his Celtics over the Lakers in Game Seven of the NBA Finals. Thus, leaving Jerry West as the first and only Finals MVP not to win the title.
That Game Seven was in L.A. lives as this Game Seven will be. There will be history going about who should win and who shouldn't, but assuming the Celtics are able to put together a great game and somehow pull out the win, can anyone but Kobe win Finals MVP? It seems almost comical in writing this article that there would be any debate in my mind.
I mean, I don't even have a fond appreciation for the Black Mamba, but he has been stinging the Celts all series long. Even in his suspect appearances, Kobe has still been carrying the Lakers.
The Celtics have not been able to have a clear and decisive choice for that same accolade. K.G.? Rondo? Pierce? Allen? A case can be made for each of them being the best player on their team, but they more or less are fighting with Pau Gasol for second best player in the Finals.
The Celtics have made it this far by truly playing a team game. There is not one player who is staying above others to an abundance that can be seen by all.
The Lakers have played a game of stars in the city of stars. It is almost as if Jerry West and Elgin Baylor have been replaced by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol on the Lakers, while on the other end of the spectrum, the spirit of Bill Russell's tenacity can be seen in Kevin Garnett and the rest of the Celtics.
This points clearly back to the unbalance of excellence that has been shown throughout the series by individual players. Kobe's worst games still make him a legitimate top-five performer in each of his games. Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol are the only others who are in this range.
The chemistry of this series lies within peaks and valleys of a catastrophe. The history of it being Lakers vs. Celtics, Game Seven in an environment that is so eerily similar to 1969...it almost leads me to believe that the Celtics will win the title even though it's hard to believe after Game Six.
Within that same mind frame, it can't even be argued in my mind that a certain Kobe Bean Bryant will join the logo, Jerry West, as the only MVP winners without a title if Boston prevails. Guess things like that happen when you're known as the Lakers' best shooting guard of the time.