Best of 2010: Top 10 Los Angeles Lakers Moments of the Year
With a second straight title, a victory over the rival Boston Celtics in the Finals and a revamped roster for the three-peat opportunity, no NBA team had a better year than the Los Angeles Lakers.
In fact, no team, in any sport, had a better 2010. Except maybe Jimmie Johnson's.
Obviously, the championship is the crowning moment of the year. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the rest of the Lakers brought home the city's fifth title in 11 years, and that's as close to a dynasty as there is in the major sports nowadays.
Sounds good, right? Lakers fans saw some excellent basketball in 2010, and these 10 plays are the cream of the crop.
There's a little bit of everything: buzzer-beaters, history, crazy dunks and more. The purple and gold made it a memorable year, so it's time to remember it well.
10. Shannon Brown's Tandem Throw Downs
When Shannon Brown made the Slam Dunk Contest last year, he appeared to be just trying to get out of the spotlight and over with the competition.
It's in-game dunks like these two that make him a cameraman's fetish.
In Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Brown must have added Flubber to his shoes, because he violated the airspace. The slam on the break was classy, but the alley-oop from Pau Gasol reminded Lakers fans of a certain afro-sporting shooting guard who wore No. 8 for the purple and gold.
Anyone remember him?
9. Kobe Bryant's Trip to the Garden
Well, you should now. Call Kobe Bryant the Weedwhacker, because he just went to work in the Garden.
Such a vintage move from the Black Mamba. With under 20 seconds left, Bryant dribbles around trying to get separation from Ray Allen. After getting the ball back from Andrew Bynum, he goes to the free throw line, pumps once, leans forward and then fades away with Allen cooking off his grill.
For some, it's just another game in January. For Bryant, it's a day to add to his legacy. And what better way to do it than with a game-winning hoop against your most hated rival?
8. Kobe Bryant's Corner Dagger
Bryant hit plenty of game-winners last year, but the Sacramento Kings definitely were on the end of the most soul-crushing of the bunch.
And to think it came on the first day of the year.
Down two with 4.1 ticks left, the ball is inbounded to Gasol, who finds Bryant towards the far corner (after pushing off a wee bit). Nevertheless, he was wide open and in rhythm.
Need I say more?
7. Pau Gasol's Game-Winning Put Back
Pau Gasol let Bryant have all the fun with winning games during the regular season, so he decided to steal the thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
And steal the Thunder's hearts, as well.
The Lakers trailed by one at Oklahoma City with 15 seconds left in Game 6, and a miss on this possession would have sent the series back to L.A. knotted at three. Bryant brought the ball downcourt, took Russell Westbrook off the dribble, and misfired from 13 feet away.
The Spaniard got the rebound and just couldn't miss from that close. Final score, 95-94, and the Lakers moved on.
6. Ron Artest's Zero to Hero Moment
Up to the Western Conference Finals, Ron Artest had done nothing to earn his purple and gold uni. Sure, he'd played well, but nothing spectacular.
In Game 5, he went from having that uni nearly burned to having it enshrined in a matter of minutes.
Artest's first shot from around 18 feet wasn't awful, but after Gasol rebounded it and passed back to him, every Lakers fan in America wanted Artest off the court for taking an ill-advised three with 22 left on the shot clock.
And while you can't blame him for not being on Jason Richardson for the tying hoop, it was still his man.
Of course, none of that matters. Second chances are the best part of life.
5. Kobe Bryant's Historic Hoop
Most people are probably thinking, "An easy fast break in a regular season game against the Grizzlies doesn't belong on this list."
If those people listen to Joel Meyers call the play, it becomes clear that this is a monumental dunk.
Kobe Bryant cemented his position on top of the Lakers scoring list with the two-handed score, putting him ahead of the venerable Jerry West. With all the talk about who is the greatest Laker ever, that hoop certainly shifted the balance toward Bryant's side.
One more title, and he may be all alone.
4. Shannon Brown's Ridiculous Dunk Attempt
As established earlier, R. Kelly wrote a song about how high Shannon Brown can jump.
No, not Bump N' Grind. It's I Believe I Can Fly.
Missed dunks don't usually make top 10s, but this isn't just any missed dunk. Brown takes off at full speed, goes up at a 45-degree angle in respect to the court, and tries to put down a one-handed jam over Jason Richardson.
The Western Conference Finals' first game was already out of hand, so people were hitting the exits. That dunk sent everyone back to their seats.
3. Ron Artest's Game 7 Rain
Game 7 of the NBA Finals looked like a disaster. Fans at Staples Center saw the Lakers fall down by double digits to hated Celtics, and Bryant couldn't find his shot.
Luckily, Artest found his.
With everyone looking at Bryant, Artest got his chance as Paul Pierce was a half step too far away. Los Angeles' small forward had 20 points in the final game, but none were bigger than these three with a minute left.
Afterwards, Artest kisses the sky. Welcome to your new home, Ron.
2. Derek Fisher's Coast-to-Coast And 1
No one took more garbage than Derek Fisher. He listened to analysts say how old, slow and defensively challenged he was the entire postseason.
While it may be true, no one called him weak. Because that's just wrong.
Fisher had a phenomenal fourth quarter in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but no hoop was bigger than this layup. With the Lakers up four, Fisher secured a rebound and took it the length of the court. At around half court, he realized he had an opening to the hoop.
He went up strong with the left hand, got whacked by three Celtics and still made the basket. The hoop sealed the game for the Lakers, giving them a 2-1 series lead.
1. Ron Artest's Post-Title Press Conference
When Kobe Bryant is your best player, the final press conference of the NBA Finals is normally filled with relief and a lot of sports clichés. Sure, it's nice to see him happy, but fans want more fun.
Which is exactly what Ron Artest gave them.
No words accurately describe this press conference. Just watch, and if you don't agree it's the best Lakers' moment of 2010, pour some Henny out for your soul.