From Robert Baptista, Silver Screen and Roll: Ahhh. Back to back. It feels so good. Especially since it was revenge on the Celtics. I think I can speak for every Lakers fan in saying we’ve wanted our vengeance on them since 2008. These Lakers have etched their names in history, and will enter next season as heavy favorites to do it again next year. It’s good to a Lakers fan right now. They tied up all loose ends and put a definitive stop to the question of whether they are really “tough enough,” and Kobe has now put himself in a place no one should question. Back to back titles, three straight Finals appearances, two Finals MVP’s, and possibly more. All without Shaq. You know, that 400 lb. weight that re-appeared with the Celtics’ return to the Finals. Kobe is now bulletproof. What more can anyone else say?
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: You know, I just wanted it so bad. I wanted it so, so bad … And the more I tried to push, the more it kept getting away from me. I really wish every Kobe Bryant press conference followed an NBA Championship. Obviously, it would be awesome for that to be true, if for no other reason than it would mean he was winning them almost daily, but the main reason is because, only directly after winning an NBA Championship does Kobe Bryant truly open up and let everybody in. The rest of the time, getting into Kobe Bryant’s true thoughts and feelings is impossible. I’m not angry with him for putting up a facade. He doesn’t want to be distracted. His focus is undaunted. All that said, it’s refreshing to hear him speak and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that he’s being completely straight with you.
From John Krolik, Pro Basketball Talk: After winning his 11th NBA championship on Thursday night, Lakers coach Phil Jackson sat down with ESPN’s Hannah Storm to discuss his future plans. This was the final year of Jackson’s contract with the Lakers, which paid him approximately $12 million a season. (He reportedly also received a $2 million bonus for leading the Lakers to a second straight title.) It is widely believed that Lakers owner Jerry Buss would want Jackson to take a pay cut in order to return to Los Angeles.
From Sam Amick, NBA Fanhouse: There was a man redeemed screaming that he could no longer be questioned. And it wasn’t Kevin Garnett. It was his turn in 2008, when the Boston forward who had never won a title announced his championship arrival to the world on television with that very question after his Celtics downed the Lakers in the NBA Finals. It was Daniel Artest this time, the brother of the league’s former Public Enemy, Ron Artest, speaking for him over and over as he yelled that question to anyone who would listen on the Staples Center floor Thursday night.
From Terrance Moore, NBA Fanhouse: OK, so he isn’t Michael, and try as he might for the rest of his career, he’ll never be Magic, either. Still, Kobe being Kobe is great enough. Kobe Bryant is great, by the way, even though he spent most of Thursday night inside Staples Center operating as if he were dribbling with one hand on the ball and the other around his throat.
From Jeff Miller, Orange County Register: he journey was complete, all the effort, time and emotion invested netting a championship. But we aren’t talking about the Lakers. The comeback was complete, as well, the inspired rally from being down big with only everything there to be lost. No, again not the Lakers. We’re talking about just one Laker today, not the rest of them, because they’d all been here before.
From Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times: Everybody supposedly gets everything they deserve and so, at last, did Kobe Bryant. That’s for better and worse. His excesses and mistakes were pure Kobe, as was the disconnect with the media. Nevertheless, you’d have to be some hard case to miss the fact he’s one of the all-time greats, with a career arc and audacity that make him the high-wire act of all time — and was for years while being accused of tanking big games or pouting, as recently as the Oklahoma City series in April.
From Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times: Lakers guard Derek Fisher appeared animated on the sideline. The team had spent much of the third quarter cutting a 13-point deficit down to four points, and there was no way the team could afford to allow Boston to widen the gap. No one questioned the Lakers’ effort, but with tightness and shooting continuing to be a struggle, Fisher wanted his teammates to somehow make it work. “He said, “Guys we’ve got 12 minutes, 12 minutes to dig down, get back into this game,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant recalled Fisher saying. “Everything that we’ve worked hard for, we’ve got 12 minutes to put it back together, and we followed suit.”
From Vincent Bonsingore, LA Daily News: Kobe Bryant sat in the interview room Thursday at Staples Center after the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, a huge smile across his face and his two impossibly cute daughters tucked under each arm. The weight of the world, the anxiety he felt over leading the Lakers to their second consecutive NBA title, the pressure he felt from an entire city that wanted and needed the Lakers to triumph over the hated Celtics was nowhere to be found.
From Kevin McNamara, The Providence Journal: During a quiet moment in the day between Games Six and Seven in Los Angeles this week, Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw talked about the quandary of transitioning from a winning, but older team to one with an eye on the future. Danny Ainge should listen. The last time the Boston Celtics were faced with such a transition, Shaw was in the middle of it. A first round draft pick of the Celtics in 1988, Shaw was a young guard trying to make his mark on a team dominated by an aging frontcourt of legends Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.
Parade information from Lakers.com: The Los Angeles Lakers will host a celebratory parade for all local fans on Monday, June 21, starting at STAPLES Center and traveling south on Figueroa Street to Jefferson Boulevard, just north of the USC campus and Galen Center. By defeating the Boston Celtics for the 2010 NBA championship, the Lakers not only earned the franchise’s 16th league title but also repeated as champions for the third time in the past decade. The Lakers have won back-to-back titles a total of seven times in franchise history, tying the NBA mark previously held by the Celtics. Tonight’s victory marks only the fourth of the Lakers’ 16 NBA titles that went to a deciding seventh game, and the first time besting the Celtics in a seventh game.
From J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: It was the Lakers’ court but the Celtics’ terms, a game that was as artistic as a tic-tac-toe board. If the Lakers were to prevail in these 2010 NBA Finals and beat their age-old rival in a Game 7 for the first time, they would have to be resolute, determined, tough. That meant Pau Gasol had to get physical in the paint. It meant Kobe Bryant had to find a way when he couldn’t simply out-spectacular everyone else on the court. It meant Ron Artest had to make the Celtics pay when their defensive strategy openly dared him to beat them.
From Chris Brussard, ESPN.com: I grew up idolizing Magic Johnson. Before he even got to the league, he stole my heart from Dr. J with alley-oop passes to Greg Kelser and by foiling Larry Bird in the historic 1979 NCAA title game. He also put together the greatest single-game performance in NBA history. Not only did he stack up 42 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals to lead the Lakers to the championship over Philadelphia, but there’s so much else to consider: the stakes, his youth and inexperience, his switch from point guard to center, the quality and star power of the opponent (The Doctor), the quality and star power of his injured teammate (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). And he did it all as a 20-year-old rookie.
From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: Phil Jackson is chasing no one now. Red Auerbach and his nine NBA titles are two victory cigars in the past. John Wooden’s 10 NCAA titles are behind Jackson, too. Jackson stands alone, on his own pedestal in the annals of coaching after winning his 11th NBA title Thursday night at Staples Center. And yet, the chase continues. Not of history anymore, but of Jackson. Time and age forgive few men who’ve put their bodies through the strain of 31 NBA seasons (12 as a player, 19 as a coach).
From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: This was a moment Kobe Bryant was built to own, a stage he was born to command. His legacy, his long journey, all building to what should have been an easy bow on the night the Los Angeles Lakers clinched their 16th NBA title. Instead, it was a heave: every inch a grind, every step painful. Bryant usually rises in these moments, drawing from an unearthly well few others have access to. But he never found that place Thursday. He only found a way to win.
From Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com: One of them was on the stage at center court, the only Laker not wearing a championship T-shirt over his game uniform. As if the game wasn’t over. He was caught up in the moment, unconcerned that he appeared to be in a totally different zone than his teammates. He’d been that way up until this point. So why stop now? The other, after Game 7 had ended, stood outside the locker room where the game officials dressed. He, too, still wore his game uniform. Green sneaks on his feet, white towel around his neck, bag in hand, wearing sunglasses. He just stood there, staring at the door. And waited. And waited.