The Los Angeles Lakers had a lot to be happy about last June. Not only did they win the NBA title, but the angered many basketball fans, including myself, in successfully winning back to back titles.
But you already knew that.
Kobe Bryant had a very good postseason, posting 29 points per game. We witnessed what he was really capable of during the Utah Jazz sweep and hitting impossible shot after impossible shot versus the resilient Phoenix Suns.
Bryant went on to win the Bill Russell Finals MVP Award.
Pau Gasol also delivered in the playoffs almost averaging 20-11. His ability to collect offensive rebounds and perform tip ins helped the Lakers greatly. When he played at an all-star level, they were hard to beat.
However, two players on the Laker roster helped the team get over the hump. Ron Artest and Derek Fisher.
Last summer, Laker fans everywhere were going bonkers when Jerry Buss passed on resigning up and coming Trevor Ariza and signing the highly controversial Ron Artest.
Now "Ron Ron" is a fan favorite.
Artest's defense and hard nosed style helped the team a lot in team match ups. He has the ability to score and shoot the 3 in spurts. Phoenix fans still cringe at the video of Artest of putting back the game winner in L.A and giving the Lakers the series edge.
The downside, is that Ron Artest is probably the most inconsistent player in the league.
One moment he'll take the most ill advised shot and air ball it, and then the next play he tips in the game winner. However, he helps the team more than he hurts it.
Artest has also come strides from the Pacers-Pistons Brawl and has worked hard to become a better person. He is now an NBA world champion. You never know what you'll get next out of Ron Artest.
On and off the court.
9 points per game, 2.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. Not good career numbers. Especially not for a starting point guard.
But the intangibles that Derek Fisher bring are irreplaceable. He has games where he comes through when no one does. Fisher is also one of the most durable players in the NBA, playing and starting 82 games in 5 straight seasons.
Kobe Bryant has said the Derek Fisher is the only player he listens to and convinced him not to go to the Miami Heat. There is just something about Derek Fisher that helps the Lakers win NBA titles.
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