Lakers Countdown: At #9…the 2010 Lakers

J.M. Poulard —  July 31, 2012

Fresh off a victory in the 2009 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers knew they had a title team as opposed to perhaps just thinking they had a championship roster. With that said, the Lakers wanted to make a small tweak to the roster and ended up perhaps changing the course of their fate with this seemingly small player transaction.

Trevor Ariza had played well under the tutelage of Phil Jackson and had perfectly complemented the Kobe-Gasol combo with his defense, spot up shooting as well as his ability to finish out in transition thanks to his athleticism. Mind you, he had now become a free agent and was looking to secure a long term deal that represented his value to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Instead, the franchise went in another direction and signed the artist formerly known as Ron Artest. The former St. John’s player had already manifested his interest in joining the team in a conversation with Kobe Bryant in the showers at the conclusion of the 2008 Finals — this actually happened — despite not actually playing in the championship series.

Metta World Peace was a bulldog.

In the 2009 playoffs, as member of the Houston Rockets, MWP had chased down Kobe after receiving an elbow simply to give him a piece of his mind and to ensure that such actions were never to reproduce themselves. His tough talk combined with his tough play earned him the respect of the Black Mamba, and the seeds had been planted for him to join the Lakers.

Mind you, as much as the move was done to help bolster the team, the acquisition of World Peace would give the Lakers a new blanket to put on the likes of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Paul Pierce should these teams meet in the postseason.

Indeed, Ron Ron was a physical defender that intimidated opponents with his strength, elbows and kiss blows. And yet, many thought that should the Lakers fail to repeat, it would be his fault given the loose canon stigma that followed him around since the Malice at the Palace.

The regular season was somewhat uninteresting by Lakers standards quite frankly.

They finished with a 57-25 record and finished 11th in offensive efficiency and fourth in defensive efficiency. Part of the reason why the regular season was somewhat of a yawner was the fact that Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum missed a combined 43 games. With players in and out of the lineup at times, and the players knowing they possessed championship pedigree, the regular season became a mere formality of sorts.

The most important thing for the team was that they be able to get by the 82-game schedule and start peaking by the time the postseason started with a healthy roster. This may sound obvious, but other teams tend to put more stock into the regular season, hoping that a top spot in the standings will earn them home court advantage in the postseason.

With Kobe Bryant playing on one leg by most accounts, the Los Angeles Lakers opened the postseason against a young up and coming Oklahoma City team that pushed the series to six games. The Lakers were victorious in Game 6 on the road and largely benefitted from the presence of Metta World Peace who hounded Kevin Durant into shooting 35 percent during the series.

The second round saw the purple and gold buy a quick cup of coffee in Utah, where they swept the Jazz in four games and defeated them by an average of plus-7.3 points.

The Western Conference Finals pitted the Lakers against one of Kobe’s most hated rivals: the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers won the first two home games by a combined 33 points, which had many thinking this might be another sweep. Mind you, Steve Nash and his Suns proved to be resilient at home and won the following two games by an average of nine points. The Lakers eventually bounced back and won the next two contests to close out the series thanks in large part to Kobe Bryant’s spectacular play.

The former league MVP torched Phoenix in the 2010 conference finals to the tune of 33.7 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game and 8.3 assists per game on 52.9 percent field goal shooting.

Just as this was happening, the Boston Celtics were busy taking out the Orlando Magic on the other side of the bracket, setting up a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals that the Celtics won at the expense of the Lakers.

As fans, media members and players would find out, the 2010 NBA Finals would have it all. History, heart, talent, mental toughness, fatigue, broken bodies, seesaw matches, clutch shots and brilliant individual performances.

With the series tied at two games apiece, Lakers fans would watch Kobe Bryant singlehandedly keep his team within striking distance on the road in Boston with a masterful performance in which he just made shot after shot despite the terrific defense of the Celtics. Bryant would finish Game 5 of the 2010 finals with 38 points on 13-for-27 shooting and would get little help from his teammates as Los Angeles would lose the contest and be faced with a 2-3 series deficit with the games now going back to the Staples Center.

In Game 6, the Celtics would play like a team with a series advantage whereas the Lakers would play with a huge sense of desperation and blow out the road team and set up a winner take all Game 7.

The deciding game of the series would start with Kobe Bryant misfiring on several forced contested jump shots and his opponents would capitalize on the misses and take an early 23-14 first quarter lead. The Lakers would gradually claw back into the game thanks to their defense and rebounding. Indeed, by game’s end, L.A. would hold Boston to 79 points on 40.8 percent field goal shooting and would destroy the Celtics on the offensive glass, collecting 23 offensive rebounds to the C’s eight.

The Lakers would display the physical and mental toughness that was lacking in 2008 in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals by not only standing up to the Celtics; but by actually manhandling them.

The Lakers would have the confetti fall down on the court and see Kobe Bryant run the length of the court with the basketball and lifting his five ringers to remind everyone he had won his fifth title.

And yet, despite all the firepower on the roster, the Los Angeles Lakers might not have won the title if not for Metta World Peace’s 20 points as well as his timely shooting in the fourth quarter.

The 2010 Lakers would finish the postseason with a plus-4.3 average scoring margin and a 16-7 playoff record much like the 2009 edition. One would think that given the superior regular season record of the 2009 team, that they would outrank the 2010 unit and that is certainly a terrific argument.

However, the 2010 team played well as a unit despite injuries to key players during the regular season and played with a much sharper mental edge than the 2009 team. Statistically, the group that defeated Orlando in five games in the NBA Finals was better, but in terms of fight and resiliency, the 2010 squad that now had championship experience holds the edge.

It’s worth noting, that although it did not factor in their ranking; some fans may remember this team Lakers far longer than some of the other ones for two reasons:

I. They defeated the Boston Celtics

II. The words “Queensbridge” and “Kobe passed me the ball!” that were uttered by Ron Artest during postgame conferences after defeating Boston in Game 7. These are imprinted in the minds of anyone associated with the franchise in any way, shape or form.

The 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers conquered their demons and also happened to manage to be back-to-back champions, a feat that has become rather rare in the modern NBA. Without question, they were a great team and the title confirmed that. But as one reporter asked at the conclusion of the 2010 finals, we know what the championship meant to the team, but what could it also have meant to a single individual? The answer…

“I got one more than Shaq”

J.M. Poulard

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26 responses to Lakers Countdown: At #9…the 2010 Lakers

  1. “….and you can take that to the bank”

  2. It is amazing the Lakers can rank their titles in a top 10 format. There are teams out there who love to have just one banner hanging in their arena.

    Dr. Buss has had an amazing tenure here in Los Angeles. Much respect to the good doctor!

    Best thing about the 2010 Title: Beating the hated Boston Celtics.

  3. The Princeton offense is a better more modern version of the triangle in my opinion and I always think its important (as does Phil) to have a system a team can fall back on and feel familiar with. There are always many ways to skin a cat but what is important is to have everyone on the same page with an actual system. The Lakers offense will look a lot better with a system in place. Plus an offense like the Princeton offense is exactly what you want when you have five great passers on the floor. You want to be able to take advantage of Gasol and Bynum’s ability to pass the ball as well as Artest and Kobe. The Mike Bibby led Sacramento Kings ran a similar offense… with heavy doses of PG PnR so do not think this will not take advantage of Nash’s strengths… it will just also use the strengths of the other Lakers starters as well.

  4. To touch on the Princeton offense I think this Eddie Jordan hire furthermore proves Mike Brown is NOT a head coach. He brings in Jordan to teach an offense a year after he hired Essitore and Kuester for offensive purposes.

    We saw some of his defensive prowess in the Okc series. But if he’s not motivating players or coaching elite defense. What use is he to the Lakers?

  5. This reminds me of the Cowboys a few years back. Not everyone can be Bill Parcells but even overwhelming talent couldn’t overcome Wade Phillips defencies as a coach. I do think Lakers will be fine though.

  6. So, with a Princeton offense will we get two-time MVP Phoenix Suns Steve Nash, or nelly-ball Dallas Mavericks Steve Nash? My guess is the latter. I hope Nash gets enough freedom in this offense to maximize his talents.

  7. I like that MB doesn’t have such a huge ego that he’s afraid to delegate – delegating huge tasks certainly worked well for Larry Bird (to Rick Carlisle) and Doc Rivers (Thibodeau) – but I generally agree with Kevin. It does speak a bit to the fact that MB seems to have no clear, definable system and always seems to be on the search for assistants that can provide that. If he had delivered on the defensive side of the ball as he had promised, you can be a little more forgiving.

    I really wish MB had better systems. The knock on last year was that it was a shortened season and there was so little practice time. But if we’re installing a completely new offensive system (even if some of the principles are familiar), it’s a bit like you’re starting from scratch again. Is MB planning on starting from scratch each year? He deserves a full season to show what he can do, but I’m not expecting a ton and I hope Jim Buss won’t be too patient on this front.

  8. There is one tweet on hoopsworld.com that CJ Miles will be signed by Lakers (Mini Mid Level)…

    Thoughts about it?..

  9. Too much for miles considering what other playersnhave gotten.

    Would be a good pick up but i would also hope we get redd or mcgrady

  10. Miles is athletic and a very good defender. However he makes Metta look like Ray Allen from distance.

  11. That was a great team, and in a way it was our version of the Redeem Team.

    It had redemptive qualities for just about all the players in our roster, especially for Ron who went through what was probably one of the most amazing image shifts in that one season than any other player.

    From the nutcase who started the brawl, he actually became a very likable nutcase who just has too much passion.

    Anyway, this was a great team; too bad we couldn’t latch on to it and get the three-peat.

  12. 2010: Back to back; 2nd title for KB w/o Shaq; 3rd victory all time over C’s (3 out of last 4); KB’s second Finals MVP; Phil #11. This deserves to be higher, but then again over which years? They are all awesome !!!! What a franchise. We need to add to this list !!!

  13. I still get warm and tingly thinking about the Lakers knocking off the C’s in the ’10 Finals. Watching the deciding game in a SF Bay Area bar, outnumbered by haters, made it even sweeter.

    Just before the game I wandered aound a parking lot and heard a soft “plopping” sound. Looked around and saw a hawk sitting on top of a pigeon it had just killed … Foreshadowing, that.

  14. … Loved the perfect symmetry of Artest earning T’s in games 1 and 7 for pushing Pierce around. Two of the smartest technicals, ever.

  15. Two straight years of the LeBron vs Kobe finals prediction two straight years LeBron won MVP and Kobe won Finals MVP.

    Probably one of Kobe’s best postseason’s after getting his knee drained twice. A lot was made of Wade toughing it through this past postseason but it wasn’t long ago we saw Kobe do the same. And Bynum.

    Kobe (age 31) 10 playoffs: 29.2 pts 6 reb 5.5 ast 1.3 stl 45/37/84

    Wade (age 30) 12 playoffs: 22.8 pts 5.2 reb 4.3 ast 1.7 stl 1.3 blk 46/29/72

    Pau in series clinchers: 17.5 pts 14.2 reb 2.7 ast 1.7 blk 22-32 FT

  16. I’m curious what the already-numbers-hungry Drew is going to do in this contract year. He should play with a major chip on his shoulder considering Lakers make it no secret they would rather have the guy currently playing in Disneyworld. If he has even an ounce of greatness in him (and a bit of luck with those knees), he should destroy the league.

  17. I will never forget the stress I had to endure during that game 7 against Boston, along with the champagne celebration afterwards, with the zen master showing a rare glimpse of emotion as he was being doused with champagne…..but the moment that stood out most for me during that playoff run was when the team mobbed Artest after he hit the buzzer beating bank shot off a Kobe miss against the Suns.

    The celebration that ensued was even more memorable than the shot itself. Kobe immediately embraced Artest, exploding with emotion and a joyous outburst that I had never seen from Kobe before, at least not to that extent. Lamar was jumping up and down like a little kid, as happy as can be for his childhood buddy, as the rest of the team mobbed Artest. All the while, Kobe and Artest were still embraced. There was just so much joy and love in that huddle. That celebration will always be one of the highlights for me as a Laker fan, and one of the rare times that the celebration itself overshadowed the shot, game, or series.

  18. Cj Miles would be a good backup 2 and 3. Another guy who will increase his PPG and Shooting % because of one Steve Nash. Athletic guy who can run with on the break, finish strong on the rim and play good defense. Suspect outside shooting though unlike Meeks.

  19. This team wasn’t one of the greatest, but Game 7 against the Clovers might have been my favorite winner-take-all game to watch ever. Two storied franchises battling age to push back the young guns for one more year to set up a classic finals matchup–and then giving us great moment after great moment culminating in a Game Seven fourth quarter for the ages. It started with BOS clinging to a two-point lead, Kobe mired in a terrible shooting night, and both teams playing lights-out defense. Despite the hater narrative about that game (how many times have we heard anti-Laker rabble-rousers punctuate arguments with “6 for 24 in a Game Seven”) Fish and Kobe again supplied the key moment in the game that turned the tide. With about six and a half minutes to play, Ray Allen hits a couple of freebies to once again extend BOS’ lead back to three, and you could just feel the tension–as if LA was just never going to quite get over the hump with LA unable to score quite enough to get the W. Then–boom–in the space of about a minute, Fish hits a next-area-code three, Kobe buries a couple of free throws, grabs a couple of his 15 rebounds, and then–for all of his shooting woes, hits one of his patented elbow “J’s” from about 18 feet–as “clutch” as a shot with half a quarter to go could ever be– to give LA a four point lead and, for the first time in the game, what seemed like some airspace, some momentum, and some control. Then the alleged softie, Gasol, essentially carries LA home and scores seven points in the last four minutes of the game and Artest hits his dagger three. My son and I didn’t spend a second sitting down the whole fourth quarter. Again, not one of the greatest LA teams, and certainly not an aesthetically-pleasing win–but one of the most-satisfying for a fan and franchise.

  20. Brandon Rush is back to Warriors after getting his money from GS using the Lakers as his bait, while C. J. Miles would not want to sign with the Cavs and prefers the Lakers instead @ mid level contract. Perhaps, he wants Cavs. to raise the ante as well. Meeks entertaining Bucks tho’ still waiting for the Lakers to make final decision. Is this not a familiar scene in summer of ’05 though Lakers card are good because of Nash and Jamison. Mitch’s eyes and ears are all open to all suggestions on blogs, tweets plus talk radio but has to wait for the big deal. He could only decide up to Jamison but couldn’t offer anything higher than VetMin. because any unnecessary bet is a hit for double, notsure yet the composition of baggages attached to Mickey Mouse entrance to the Lakers. We are in limbo, a stalemate where there non new but pure speculations to keep on ratcheting interests. Olympics drama of Costas is winning than DH diva.

  21. Wait, I thought everyone agreed this title didn’t happen because the immortal Kendrick Perkins didn’t play in game 7?

  22. @ Andy–Correct. Neither did the title from the year prior, because if KG hadn’t gotten hurt, BOS rather than ORL would have been in the finals.

    And while we’re at it–don’t forget–the Minneapolis titles don’t count as championships either.

  23. Andy/mindcrime: Love it. Let’s also mention that the fact that AB was at 50% for the entire 2008 series somehow gets less mentions then the Perkins injury for 1 game in 2010. Bottom line is that when you are talking to most Celtic fans, they really have 3 titles in recent times, to our 10. We also have 31 Finals appearances to their 21 (16-6 in recent times). Lastly if they say that the Mikan titles should not count, you can counter by agreeing with them that all titles where peach baskets, on court cigars, and jump balls after all made hoops, do not count. That makes the title comparison about 11-5 in favor of the Lakers.

  24. “The second round saw the purple and gold buy a quick cup of coffee in Utah.”

    Given the state’s Mormon population, I’d think that’s about the last place where you could quickly buy a cup of coffee.