The Los Angeles Lakers 93-89 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals signaled the end of another chapter of the league's most historic rivalry, and ushers in questions about each team's ability to return to this stage.
Both teams have concerns going into the off-season, but the Celtics may have more issues to settle if they are to reach the NBA Finals again, and some of the solutions may be hard decisions for Boston.
I found it a little curious that Celtics coach Doc Rivers failed to mention Ray Allen when discussing which players will need to be re-signed in order to make another postseason run.
Rivers mentioned a healthy Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, and an even healthier Kevin Garnett, but no hint of Allen, unless I just missed it.
Allen is a free agent next season, and his performance in the Finals was terribly uneven on a historic level.
Some serious thought should be given to a parting of ways between the two parties.
Allen's NBA record eight three-pointers in Game Two is overshadowed by his subsequent failure of shooting from the field follow-up performance in Game Three, and his general lack of relevance throughout the series.
He wasn't the reason the Celtics lost to the Lakers, but he sure didn't help the cause, and it may be time for Boston to explore different options at the shooting guard position.
Allen's situation will likely have the biggest impact on the Celtics' immediate future, but Rajon Rondo could could increase Boston's fortunes by paying a little more attention to his non-existent jump shot.
The Lakers left Rondo open on the perimeter numerous times during the course of the series, and if he had been able to knock down a few shots, the outcome could have been different.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker found himself in a similar situation, and his ability to improve his jumper made the Spurs a much more dangerous team.
Rondo has the tools to become a great NBA point guard but he can't fairly be considered in that light unless he shows a commitment to improving his perimeter game.
It's doubtful Garnett will ever regain any of his former explosiveness, regardless of what Rivers says because knee injuries rob a player in a fundamental place which can't be healed.
Speaking of Rivers, he has some decisions of his own to make, and I expect the close manner in which the Celtics lost this season's championship may fend off the need to spend more time with his family.
Age will become more of a concern if the Celtics choose to move forward without changing their roster.
If they can stay healthy, the prospects of competing for another championship look pretty good.
In the glow of the Lakers' 16th championship, the future still looks pretty good—even after the shine of consecutive titles is replaced with a tiny hint of uncertainty about coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson has said health would play a factor in his decision about coaching next season, but you have to believe the opportunity to win an even 12 championships (and his fourth three-peat) would be to enticing.
I suspect Jackson will return next season and have a roster full of confident players with no real contractual problems to bother their chance for another title run next season.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, and Andrew Bynum are all under contract for multiple seasons, and there is a pretty good chance Derek Fisher will be re-signed.
The Lakers could use some help in the back court, and I'm not convinced Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, and Sasha Vujacic proved they were anything but expendable in the Finals.
There have been whispers about a possible deal bringing Chris Bosh into the Lakers' fold, and although it's an intriguing thought, the Lakers' have the advantage of bargaining from a champion's point of view.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Even though some would prefer a major change in the roster, the Lakers have a proven model and moves of that magnitude could disrupt an established chemistry.
Los Angeles can enjoy the victory parade that comes with this championship, and there is no reason to believe the expectations for next season should be diminished.