It’s almost titillating when a town embraces the top franchise in Hollywood, living in a town accustomed to winning championships, a triumphant ritual happening in a diverse community that assembles as a unified atmosphere, once the Los Angeles Lakers captures greatness and takes in euphoria.
Suddenly, the ideal ending came in a low-scoring Game 7, but a memorable showdown among two of the most hated rivals in sports as the purple and gold confetti fell, the team’s anthem was heard and the Lakers celebrated another glorious moment at home.
It’s a town famous for watching championship banners rise to the rafters, gazing at the sky to witness the purple and gold confetti fall from the ceilings, and now observed Kobe Bryant jump on the scorer’s table, shaking his fists and extended five fingers advertising that he won his fifth ring after the Lakers clinched its second straight championship.
“I just got one more than Shaq,” Bryant said after he won his fifth championship. “You can take that to the bank. You know how I am. I don’t forget anything.”
Thereafter, he leaped off the scorer’s table to meet and shake hands with Boston’s legendary Hall of Fame center Bill Russell, mostly smiling without revealing his frighten and intimidating scowl.
In the finest moment, a historic time in the existence of the Lakers, they were overjoyed and rejoiced as a team, releasing dismay and agony after a doleful 39-point loss in a distraught Game 6 at Boston two years ago.
At last, he’s not furious or has a bitter aftertaste about the Celtics, never erasing the memories of a depressing defeat that obliterated aspiration last time these two teams encountered a showdown.
Finally, the Lakers experienced heartfelt emotions, shedding tears of joy and uncontrollably jubilated in front of a boisterous crowd of non-celebs and celebrities.
This was a moment Jack Nicholson, the team’s cheerleader who has a personalized seat on the sidelines, applauded the Lakers and cheered loudly for his home town franchise.
This was a moment the enthusiastic town cherishing its basketball gathered around the inner and urban community to engage in a fairly pleasant celebration when Lakers supporters jived and party at the local sports bars and restaurants, despite the soulless idiots who poured onto Figueroa Ave., Flower Street, and Olympic Boulevard.
Shame on rowdy fans for such rebellious behavior by pathetically vandalizing vehicles and lighting one car on fire, refusing to celebrate with pride and dignity. Aside from all the embarrassment shaming the town, Bryant, who was named the Finals MVP for the second straight season, stood on the court with his wife, Vanessa, and had his two daughters on his shoulders, while accepting congratulations and embracing the moment.
For the first time in a seventh game of a series, he was frustrated and shot the ball poorly, harassed and forced to shoot as the Celtics defenders plotted the double-team and obstructed his mental toughness and capability in facilitating and burying shots during sequential shooting.
For a man who had an abysmal night, which included 23 points on six-for-24 shooting but an essential 15 rebounds, he still proved that he’s an authentic leader, the fiercest scorer on earth, and a godlike specimen with five rings, quickly moving closer of surmounting pass Michael Jordan.
Fact is, he’ll never be like MJ, but in this generation, he’s definitely the well-known brand name in professional basketball and glowing as the ravishing megastar within his prime on pace to win at least eight rings before he calls it a career.
As a beloved athlete and a rare breed in a league when his presence has magnetized the NBA, he’s an admirable icon who isn’t selfish or egocentric, but selfless and willing to lead by example and as a sophisticated leader.
But it’s fair to assume that he would not have won his fifth championship without a poised and powerful supporting cast.
Nevertheless, his legacy would have been in tatters and lofting another Larry O’Brien trophy would have been delayed, had the Lakers failed to beat the Celtics twice in his career during the finals.
Once known as the most polarizing figure in sports, he's now known as a noble symbol in the Lakers franchise, and probably will go down as the greatest player in franchise history, if not league history.
We now know he can win without Shaquille O’Neal. We now know he can reach a crescendo in his career with his transcendent title runs, aiming to surpass the legendary Jordan for the most titles as the greatest player to implement worthiness.
At times, it appeared that the Lakers weren’t worthy of winning because of awful shooting droughts and unwisely over dribbling on possessions, but eventually recovered and came back to salvage an 83-79 victory over the Boston Celtics to win its 16th championship, completing the final chapter of a thrilling rivalry in Game Seven.
Because the Lakers played with much heart and guts, they rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second-half and managed to overcome a potential nightmare of falling to the Celtics again in the most storied rivalry showdown. Had it not been for their toughness, bravery and earnestness, the Lakers could have loss out on sustaining its 16th franchise title.
Doing so, however, Derek Fisher won his fifth ring, Pau Gasol won his second, Ron Ron won his first after taking a pay cut and signed with the Lakers to win a championship, Lamar Odom won another won, and as a core the Lakers captured vengeance and redemption.
“We wanted it more,” said owner Jerry Buss.
There were towel-swinging fans chanting, “Kobe, Kobe,” imploring for Bryant to get involved and take over in a nerve-racking and tense showpiece. And with the Celtics leading by double-digits in the third quarter hope quickly dwindled.
Because the archrivals looked as if they were the stronger and hungrier team than the soft and passive Lakers throughout the game, Team Hollywood trailed by four points at the start of the fourth and trailed by three with fewer than seven minutes remaining.
“I’ll be really honest with you, I didn’t even hear them,” Bryant said of the crowd. “I was so tired my ears were ringing. They really were. It felt like it was six in the morning and I was on track running. I was just drained.”
The high-energy and deeper star power of the Lakers, including frequent trips to the charity strike, diminished any acceptance of likely beating and dethroning the defending champs.
While the team in L.A. had immeasurable talent, proving that it could purge the Celtics, Fisher’s heroics were useful when he lofted a three-pointer to tie it, Bryant’s late rebounding was a factor in the comeback when he converted on a pair of huge free throws and buried a jump shot over a pesky Ray Allen.
Yes, he was urged not to shoot. But in this game alone, Artest was the MVP, firing one risky three-pointer with 1:01 remaining to clinch a miraculous night and pop the champagne corks and wear the goggles before squirting the champagne in the locker room for a well-deserving victory party.
“I want to thank my psychiatrist,” said Artest who had 20 points.
Dismissed as an awful shooter, but cheered for his exemplary defensive-minded tactics, he told fans if the Lakers failed to win a championship, that he was the one to blame. Turns out, no one is to fault.
It was a disputable signing by the Lakers front office when the Buss family brought aboard Artest for his defensive theories, while fans were perturbed about the departure of Trevor Ariza and the Lakers lack of interest in re-signing an energetic and younger defender.
Very impressive was the leadership of Pau Gasol, who is rapidly flourishing as the second-leading scorer on the Lakers, scoring 19 points and had 18 rebounds, finally eradicating his soft and attenuated trends. In other words, he fought and abused Kevin Garnett, who spent much of the night in foul trouble.
“We fought extremely hard,” said Gasol. “We kept our minds and our hearts into the game at all times, and we hustled…we hustled.”
This season, Bryant has broken down a bit for his aging and injuries. It wasn’t a day that past without the man playing with a taped-up right index finger and his sore right knee that he had drained after Game Four of the first-round, often monitored by team’s physician Gary Vitti.
He has been candid about his health. “I’m obviously going to have to look at the knee and figure some things out, said Bryant. “I can’t play a whole entire season the way it is now…Without the tape (on the finger), I can’t grip a basketball.”
His injuries are the least worry, I assume, after winning it all.
Now that the town is fueled over the win, the Lakers are delighted than ever after accomplishing revenge against the archenemies and unfriendly rivals. What an indelible classic the Lakers endured and excelled, capturing unforgivable triumph.
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