LA Lakers-Panathinaikos: Kobe Bryant Slams Euroleague Champs in Five

Jo-Ryan SalazarSenior Analyst IJune 15, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Derek Fisher #2 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers react after defeating the Orlando Magic 99-86 in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

It wasn't revenge for the loss to Boston, but it sure was close, if not made up for it.

The Los Angeles Lakers, 2009 NBA Champions, smashed Euroleague titleholders Panathinaikos Athens 99-86 in Game Five of the 2009 FIBA World Club Finals at the Olympic Indoor Hall in Greece.

The emphatic 4-1 series victory ensures that the Los Angeles Lakers are World Champions by all leaps and bounds of the imagination.

"It definitely is a stretch to fly from LA to Athens and back, but you know what? I'm just glad we will be heading back home without having to play another game against Europe's best," said series MVP Kobe Bryant.

"This also made up for the USA's pratfall at the Athens Games a few years ago. That's just me. But this was a great night for me and our guys."

"After winning another NBA title and a rally in the Coliseum, I had faith in our guys to have fun against a strong team in Panathinaikos," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

"Tonight we showed the world what our style of basketball has been about all year."

"God, we got crushed," said Panathinaikos head coach Željko Obradović.

"Not even the Soviet Union's 1972 side could lay a finger on No. 24 [Kobe Bryant]. My men gave it their best shot. We were facing the best team in the USA, and you can't shoot like garbage against a team like that.

"We paid the price. We're still the best in Europe, but we'll never be the best in the world when you take on the NBA's best team. 

"Maybe if we took on that team from North Carolina [Charlotte Bobcats], we'd have a chance; they never lost against them."

Antonis Fotsis scored 18 points to go with 10 rebounds.

Nikola Peković scored 11 points and 10 boards.

Stratos Perperoglou, Drew Nicholas, and Vassilis Spanoulis each scored 12 points.

Fotsis had a horrible night from the three-point line, shooting 3-for-12, and was a paltry 6-for 19. Spanoulis shot only 33 percent (5-for-15), cursing in Greek as he was subbed out of the game.

Nick Calathes scored only five points off the bench while going just 2-for-7.

Panathinaikos as a team shot 30 percent from the three-point line. Los Angeles, meanwhile, shot a blistering 50 percent from the perimeter.

Bryant torched the Clover defense with 30 points, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Lamar Odom added 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, hurting the Euroleague champions' defense with three key shots from downtown.

Pau Gasol crashed the boards with 15 rebounds to go with 14 points, and Derek Fisher scored 13 points in the victory.

"We had a parade and a rally at the Coliseum a few weeks ago, and we got another one coming up this Wednesday," said Odom.

"I feel like eating some gyros right now. I gotta lay off the sweet stuff and get ready for next year."

"Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?" cried Georgios Oligopoulos, an 88-year-old Panathinaikos supporter who suffered a heart attack minutes after the Lakers claimed victory.

He is in critical condition after being sent to a hospital near the Olympic Indoor Hall and is not expected to survive.

Outside, the cafes in Athens were full of dejected Panathinaikos supporters drinking their sorrows away. Some fans were sprawled out on the concrete, in tears and emotional distress.

"The loss by the team is the gain of the restaurants," said Spiro Didas, a cafe owner who has no relation to the play-by-play broadcaster on the Los Angeles Lakers' basketball radio network.

"The spirits will be free-flowing tonight. Oh, and by the way, I'm a Lakers fan," he added, showing his Kobe Bryant Jersey with the Larry O'Brien trophy patch.

In Los Angeles, news that the Lakers won the true World Championship triggered celebrations, although it wasn't as enthusiastic.

Some were dumbfounded that Panathinaikos, known more for its football team, had a basketball club too.

"You mean we beat a soccer team?" asked Greg Hines, a Lakers fan from Palos Verdes who was scratching his head.

"How the heck is that possible? Oh well, we beat them anyway."

"I didn't know they had a basketball team," said Mighty Joe Young of Beverly Hills, who was climbing on the back of a Clippers fan who chose to be anonymous (although he was reported to be team owner Donald Sterling).

"Boston would rip them apart," said M.T. Lott of Orlando, a disgruntled Magic fan.

"And they wouldn't even need the front five who we took down in the semis. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll cry in my beer."

The news from O-Town got even worse.

Hours before Game Five of the 2009 FIBA World Cub Finals, Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy suffered a heart attack and passed away, rubbing more salt into the wounds of what was a forgettable NBA Finals.

Funeral services are pending at the Colonial Chapel/Carey Hand Mortuary later this week. 

However, there were unconfirmed reports from peers of national anthem idol Gina Marie Incandela of shouting and kicking inside a casket at that mortuary.

They were said to be, "I'm not dead yet!" 

Further reports of whether this was indeed Van Gundy or his long lost brother Ron Jeremy shouting inside the casket have yet to be confirmed.


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