It was over.
The long ride that was the 2007-2008 NBA Season was over for Kobe Bryant, as he walked off the Gatorade-drenched floor of Boston’s TD Garden. A season that held such promise for Bryant and his Lakers squad seemingly was snatched away by “The Big 3” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. For a team that won 57 games, and 22 out of their last 27 games after acquiring Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers, and Kobe Bryant in particular, knew that they had failed to meet not only the organization’s expectations of bringing a 16th championship home to Los Angeles, but also their own expectations of beating their arch rival, the Boston Celtics. After winning his first MVP award in the regular season, Kobe exited his last game of the 2008 playoffs through the east tunnel of the Garden where he was greeted with the phrase: “Kobe sucks” by ecstatic Boston fans.
Although the Lakers’ pitfalls of 2007-2008 fueled Kobe’s pursuit of an NBA title in 2008-2009, the Lakers’ star has surely shown that the memories of losing on Boston’s home court in 2008 still motivate him to get his second NBA championship ring since Shaquille O’Neal bolted to Miami.
Bryant has been absolutely absurd as of late. In the last 3 games, Bryant has averaged 32.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, leading a struggling Laker team into a Game 7 showdown at Staples Center.
During tonight’s broadcast, ESPN/ABC color commentator Jeff Van Gundy made an excellent point about the media, and the fan’s under appreciation of Bryant, who has averaged 29.5 points per game throughout this year’s playoffs. Van Gundy stated that when players such as Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson put up the kind of numbers that Kobe has been for the past 3 games, the last thing people would be talking about is the “lack of help” that Kobe is receiving on offense. They would instead be focusing on the genius that is Kobe Bryant on the basketball court.
Does a 26 point, 11 rebound outing grab your attention yet? Kobe sure hopes so. Come Thursday, Bryant hopes to recreate the feelings he felt in Boston two years ago. Only he hopes he creates these feelings for rivals Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and company, as they exit the Staples Center defeated.