Archives For Finals 2010

Yesterday I was able to make the trek from Bakersfield to Los Angeles for the parade. I brought my D5000 and picked up my sister along the way and set out to celebrate with the 2010 NBA World Champion Lakers. Unfortunately, unlike past years, the parade didn’t end with a rally, but we had a good time nonetheless. As far as the number of people who attended, the latest estimation I heard was about 1 million people. Without further adu, here’s a photo essay of my time at the parade.

 

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We decided to head to the Staples Center first and work our way down Figueroa to get to the Convention Center, the area where we watched the parade from.

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Home, sweet home — and A LOT of cops.

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My sister couldn’t resist posing with one of the little characters from “Dispicable Me”.

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We got our fair share of buzzing at the parade. It wasn’t on the World Cup level, but the vuvuzelas were going strong for the Champs.

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The nerve… We don’t even see the green during the parade.

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Again, there were A LOT of cops.

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Full force.

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The sea of Forum Blue and Gold was amazing to see.

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There were definitely some characters at the parade. This guy was hilarious.

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The creativity of Lakers fans.

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Kobe-dog

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Best seats at the parade.

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This is NOT Pau Gasol.

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The media was going to need a pencil bigger than this one to write off the Lakers this year.

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These guys were the loudest non-vuvuzela blowing fans I heard at the parade.

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Just saw the Good Year blimp, and it read Ice Cube’s a… err.. Lakers are champs.

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It was crazy packed.

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I was lucky to get this spot. Head above the others.

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It’s unbelievable how united a city can become because of a sports team.

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I loved this. Finger wrapped and all.

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The ubiquitous Lakers girls.

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Kobe greeting the people. You wouldn’t believe how happy he looked on that float.

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How many rings do you have now, Kobe? Five? Damn, that’s a grip.

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I was trying to figure out if it was Sasha or Ron who brought Delonte West.

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Magic was jubilant as always.

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A.C. Green… and some women.

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Kareem was the exact opposite of Kobe. Looked like he was brainstorming ideas for his next book: 1,000,001 Things To Do Instead Of Being In a Parade

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And there it is, Congrats to the Lakers who brought home the title for the 16th time.

June 13, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02200618 Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum makes a slam dunk in the first quarter of the NBA Finals Game Five at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 13 June 2010. The best of seven series is tied at two apiece.

His post-season stats won’t show it, but it was blatantly obvious in Game 7 – a game in which he primarily rode the bench – that Andrew Bynum has evolved as a player and as a man. Limited by a knee injury that has bothered him for months, the Lakers’ Big Enigma showed a sense of fortitude that has largely been missing during his first four years in the NBA.

Thankfully, I’ve never torn cartilage in my knee or moreover, tried to play basketball with an injury that severe. I imagine it doesn’t feel like a simple sprained or twisted knee though. Since he entered the league, Andrew has arguably been the most polarizing player on the Lakers roster, with some fans prognosticating a Hall of Fame career and others viewing him as one of the biggest busts in franchise history. Regardless of whether you are a Bynum apologist or champion, one thing was made abundantly clear in these epic 2010 playoffs: #17 is officially, undoubtedly, a gamer.

Gutty isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when you describe Bynum, but his performances against Oklahoma City, Utah, Phoenix and Boston were a huge testament to how far he has come since he was drafted directly out of high school. In many ways, I think that his newfound toughness paralleled that of the entire team in 2010, as evidenced by the Lakers’ grind-it-out mindset that clinched Game 7 against the Celtics. Instead of drawing Kobe’s ire, Andrew earned the remarkably resilient superstar’s respect during these playoffs by pushing forward on a leg that was ready to give out at any given moment. He also received praise from Pau Gasol, who was forced to fill the void in the paint when Bynum was out due to injury during the 2008 playoffs.

“What Andrew is doing throughout these playoffs has been incredible,” said Gasol. “To be able to play through his injuries and the soreness.”

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak echoed the Spaniard’s positive sentiments: “In the world of sports, it’s courageous to see a player get out there and do that. Of course, there are a lot of people in this country that are very courageous that are not in sports. I don’t want to overplay it. But in what we do, it’s showing a lot of guts and a lot of maturity to go out there and try to play.”

Even Phil Jackson, who has notoriously come down hard on Bynum, has noticed the change in his center’s mentality. After Bynum re-tweaked his troublesome knee during the Finals, Jackson said, “He’s been able to overcome those odds almost all the way through these playoffs, ever since Oklahoma. So we’re really optimistic that he’ll be able to find a way to do that.”

I am sure Bynum appreciates the words of encouragement, but the most sure-fire sign of his maturation during this year’s playoffs is that his drive to persevere through injury came from within. “It’s motivating for me,” said Bynum after Game 1 against the Celtics. “I’m just gonna to keep going out there and playing as hard as I can, and whatever happens, happens.”

Despite losing Game 2 at home, Bynum did exactly that with a difference-making 21 points, six rebounds and an especially impressive seven blocks.

In addition to his improved determination, Andrew also provided the Lakers with a boost of confidence and somewhat unexpected dose of enthusiasm, even when relegated to warming the bench at times during the 2010 playoffs.

“I think this one, when we win it, it’s going to taste much sweeter than the one last year,” said Bynum last Thursday before Game 7. “Just knowing that I played with the injury, [came] through and helped us get here. It’s big. We have to win. We’re at home. Everything. We have the momentum right now. We have to go out there and beat this team.”

His pre-game zeal matched his in-game vigor, as there was no bigger cheerleader at STAPLES Center during Game 7 than #17. Whether waving his hands in the air to energize an already rabid fan base or congratulating his teammates during each timeout, Bynum’s presence was felt even when he was not physically able to contribute on the court. As more of a role player in the Finals, Andrew was invaluable.

“It’s all about how you look at it and how you think,” said Bynum about his injury earlier in the playoffs. Call it perspective from playing in the league for a few years or Zen magic; Andrew has transformed himself into a player deserving of unanimous praise for the way he handled himself over the past two-plus months. How this translates into Bynum’s on-court production for next season remains a mystery. Watching him gut it out in these playoffs should finally end the speculation about his courage and heart though.

“I have to go out and be ready to play,” said Bynum before Game 7. No hesitation. No doubt. Just words of confidence from a player who blossomed in unexpected ways during the 2010 playoffs.

A history of celebrations…

1972: I don’t yell much, and I’m not much of a drinker,” West said. “Really, I can’t figure out much that I’ll be able to do except maybe smile a lot.” When they did win, the Lakers were subdued. They drank their victory champagne out of wine glasses, while West smiled as predicted and delivered what were in effect a couple of toasts.

How things have evolved…

1980: Magic was too young for champagne… Trophy presentation 3:30

1982: Trophy presentation 3:40.

1985: “LA’s the Place!”

“Ain’t nothing but a party, y’all.”

1987: “I’m guaranteeing everyone here. Next year were going to win it again.”


Complete with footage from their visit with then president Reagan.

1988: “With 20 seconds to go, we were celebrating like we were champs. I said, ‘Hey don’t celebrate.’ I’m always scared. I’m scared until the final buzzer goes off.” -Magic

Kareem stuffs his towel in Riley’s mouth after Brent Musburger tempts Riley to guarantee another title. 7:50


2000:
“We gonna get another one next year. Caaaan yoooooou dig it?”

2001: a hint of things to come…

2002: “It takes Two”

2009: 1-2-3 Ring!

First of all, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there – especially mine. I know for many fans, their love of the Lakers is something that has been passed down from father to son (or daughter) and with the Lakers now celebrating another championship these are special times. And I know on Father’s Day, a lot of dads love to sit around and watch TV and relax on a day that’s all theirs. So, in between gearing up for the final round of the US Open or watching some Wold Cup action enjoy some of the best Lakers videos from the last few days.

First up, we’ve got the appearance of Kobe, Fish, Ron, DJ, Josh, Shannon, and Sasha on Jimmy Kimmel. Great stuff from the guys in these clips.

 

Next up, the video that will live in infamy, Ron Artest’s post game press conference. This is some of the best 10 minutes of TV I’ve ever watched. He’s just so damned happy. And hilarious.

Finally, the mini-movie from game 7. NBA.com did a great job putting these game summaries together and, considering the result of this one, I have to say that this one is the best.

Game 7 was an historic defensive war that will be remembered for generations to come not for a single defining play, but instead for its series of grueling mini-battles that made a monumental difference in deciding the outcome of the game. While devoid of an “MJ over Russell” type of moment, it was still very much ripe with drama and in a lot of cases, from unlikely sources. With two days gone by since the confetti-filled celebration at STAPLES, let’s take a look back at seven pivotal moments that helped lead the Lakers to their sixteenth NBA championship.

7:40, 2nd quarter: With the Lakers falling behind early and Kobe admittedly feeling the effects of a season of injuries, the forum blue and gold desperately needed someone to step up. Enter: Ron Artest. Kobe’s legs literally gave up on him during this play, forcing him into a difficult attempt that narrowly beat the shot clock buzzer, before missing badly. Luckily, Artest came to the rescue with a put-back that reclaimed the lead for the Lakers. Ron’s offensive board was one of a dominating 23 for the Lake Show on the night, compared to only eight for the Celtics.

1:22, 2nd quarter: The Lakers were desperate for a spark heading into halftime after Boston stymied their early second quarter momentum. Once again, it was Artest who literally and figuratively stepped up to the Celtics, refusing to back down after becoming entangled with Paul Pierce underneath the basket. The C’s came out with their fists up in Game 7 and though it isn’t something that will show up on the stat sheet, I think the team really needed someone to shake things up – a role Ron was practically born into.

3:48, 3rd quarter: Down by nine points with under four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Lakers were quickly arriving at fight or flight time. Lamar Odom, who had a timely seven points to go along with seven boards on the night, barreled down, channeled his inner Magic and sailed past Kevin Garnett for an easy layup that began the Lakers’ epic charge in the game’s final 15 minutes.

6:14, 4th quarter: Did anyone really think a Game 7 would go by without Derek Fisher putting his stamp on it? Fish did just that, nailing one of his signature rainbows from beyond the arc to tie the game at 64 nearing the halfway point of the fourth, immediately resulting in a timeout for Boston. While most people will probably remember Derek’s spellbinding fourth quarter performance in Game 3 of this series, his second of only two treys in Game 7 was every bit as meaningful.

5:22, 4th quarter: After finally getting over the proverbial hump to take a two point lead, Kobe took advantage of an isolation against Ray Allen, connecting on a jumper that pushed the lead to four. Bryant’s basket wasn’t anything special in and of itself, but who didn’t breathe a collective sigh of relief when that shot went down? Even in one of the worst shooting performances of his career, #24 still found a way to contribute down the stretch and his Game 7 performance should be remembered for that, not his field goal percentage. On a side note, this play was also significant as it came immediately after another crucial wide open second half miss from Allen. If just two or three of his 11 misses in 14 attempts goes down, we might be talking about a whole other topic right now.

1:56, 4th quarter: “The Spaniard” was one of the first people Kobe credited during the MVP trophy presentation and rightfully so. Like Bryant, Gasol struggled from the field, shooting only 6-16, yet he racked up 18 rebounds and two blocked shots – the most important of which came in the final two minutes of the game. With the Lakers clinging to a precarious four point lead, Pau delivered an emphatic message to the Celtics, blocking Pierce’s layup attempt before sinking his own shot under the hoop to give the Lakers a six point lead that they never relinquished. The final six minutes of the game in general were a role reversal from the previous three and a half quarters as it was the L.A., not Boston, who consistently responded to the Celtics’ mini rallies.

1:31, 4th quarter: Give the Celtics credit; they refused to back down even when it looked like they were dead in the water during the game’s final minute. Point and case: L.A. takes what looks to be a semi-commanding six point lead at 76-70 and Rasheed Wallace nails a three to bring it back to a one possession game. Thankfully, Game MVP Artest’s perfect timing isn’t just reserved for his post-game comedy routines as he delivered a three-point dagger that sent STAPLES Center into pandemonium. I’m not sure I was breathing at all for the final six minutes of the game, but Ron Ron’s triple was probably the closest I came to exhaling for the next half an hour. It was an especially fitting, if not ironic climax in a season where most fans screamed in horror every time Artest shot the ball from the perimeter. On Thursday, they serenaded him with cheers of joy instead.

An honorable mention goes to Sasha Vujacic for hitting the two most clutch free throws of the game and his life. His two freebies in the final seconds of the game encapsulated 48 punishing minutes of basketball that didn’t need a game-winning shot to transform Game 7 into an instant classic. This latest clash with the Celtics was won through a series of smaller moments that added up to one giant Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.

June 17, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02208507 Los Angeles Lakers celebrate after they defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79 to win their 16th NBA Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, 17 June 2010.

With my 48th birthday rapidly approaching (June 29th for those of you who want to send presents), I wonder if I’m finally mellowing out with my advancing age. If I had to witness the way the Boston Celtics hammered the Los Angeles Lakers back when I actually had excess physical and mental energy to burn, they would have named one of those killer hurricanes after me. I would have tore up the same volume of s–t I ripped up back in ‘84.

That was the beginning of an e-mail my father sent me the morning after Game 6 of the 2008 Finals or the morning after the worst sports moment of my lifetime. Growing up, I did as my father did, and one of the main things that define him and have defined me is a hatred for various sports teams. The Dodgers. The Broncos. The Celtics. Sports hate is one of those things that becomes a part of your life and helps you understand simple differences – like the difference between good and evil. As my father would tell it, the Celtics were the evil of all evils.

My father is a history buff, U.S. history, world history, presidential history and of course, sports history. I grew up being taught about the nuances of the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, which I guess, was his own special way of raising me right. I grew up loathing the Celtics to the point that I refuse to wear green. I wasn’t even born yet and I’m still mad that the Lakers couldn’t get things done in 1984. I was six months old and still thing that the Lakers taking home the title was one of the greatest moments of my lifetime – but in my basketball watching lifetime the Lakers had only played the Celtics in the Finals once prior to this series, and that was in 2008. You see, some of the Lakers fans who are of older generations didn’t dislike this Celtic’s team as much as they hated those teams in the ‘80s. They wanted the Lakers to win, but it wasn’t as crushing as that loss in ’84 which generated this kind of anger (from the same e-mail as above):

When I saw Cedric Maxwell flashing the choke sign at the Lakers’ bench, I wanted to jump through my 21-inch TV screen and plunge his Cornbread ass to blood-stained crumbs. There were also visions of ML Carr talking smack and prancing along the sideline, even though the contributions of locker-room attendants and ball boys exceeded whatever that towel-waving punks limited talent could muster.

Then there was Danny Ainge, whose face would wince at the sound of every single whistle, and who made you want to deliver a set of rapid-fire b—h slaps across his rosy checks each time you saw his beady eyes squint. Let’s not also forget the times Kevin McHale flung his boney and pasty elbows at everyone dressed in forum blue and gold and got away with it. The only Celtics I truly respected were Larry Bird and Dennis Johnson, and both of them continued to make plays that broke the Lakers’ back as well as my heart.

For those of my generation and younger, the ’08 loss was devastating. I HATE these Celtics. From Paul Pierce all the way down to Sheldon Williams. They’re uppity, bullies, condescending and obnoxious. I mean, Kendrick Perkins doesn’t even smile and has never heard a whistle he doesn’t agree with. Paul Pierce rattles off blasphemous statement after blasphemous statement. Ray Allen’s grin when he has things going makes me want to punch through walls. I really don’t understand how anyone outside of Boston can love that team. I respect everything that they’ve done, they’re a fantastic basketball team and have had an amazing three-year run, but I can’t stand them. That loss in 2008 burned me for two whole years. After that win over Orlando, I was mildly satisfied, but it just wasn’t the Celtics. I wanted what my father had – an amazing basketball team with a world championship taken out of the hands of the Celtics. In Game 7, the Lakers gave me just that.

I just wanted to say that I couldn’t be happier about this Lakers team writing another positive chapter in this Lakers/Celtics rivalry for my generation. We don’t know when these two teams are going to square off in the Finals again, and another loss to the Celtics would have been a crushing blow to my summer. No basketball is already hard enough – no basketball with a Celtics championship looming over my head would have ruined me. It’s been a fantastic season with Kobe doing historic things early, Pau Gasol continuing to build his Lakers résumé, Derek Fisher hitting more huge shots and Andrew Bynum continuing his growth as a basketball player. I really can’t wait for next season. I’m hoping for more hilarious Ron Artest interviews, more big games, another long playoff run – and hopefully – another Lakers title.

On Top Again

Darius Soriano —  June 18, 2010

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Oh how sweet it is.

The Lakers successfully defended their NBA championship by beating the Celtics 83-79 in an ugly struggle that was also a beautifully triumphant game 7 of the NBA Finals.  And now for the second time in two seasons, the Lakers are the kings of the court, are at the top of the NBA mountain, and have been crowned the champions of the league.  It really does not get any better than this.

But for most of this deciding game, it did not look like it was meant to be.  Physically beat down by an imposing Boston defense, the Lakers struggled to put the ball in the basket on offense and couldn’t stop the Celtics from doing it to them when on defense.  Boston – as they have all Finals – pushed, grabbed, hustled, and fought for every inch of real estate on the hardwood and played at a level befitting of champion.  They imposed their will on the Lakers and forced missed shots and mistakes that hushed the Staples Center crowd and had fans of the defending champs more than just bit concerned.

Early on, Boston just seemed to be the better team that had more control over what needed to be done to win.  They were patient on offense by going to Rasheed Wallace in the post for some nice turn around jumpers and attacking the basket in transition. And on the other end, they played their typical brand of stifling defense by cutting off driving lanes, contesting jumpers, and choking off the ball movement that was so successful for the Lakers only two nights earlier.

And the player that struggled the most in the face of the Celtic defense was Kobe Bryant.  Seemingly forgetting the off the ball work that was so important to his strong game 6, Kobe too frequently attacked off the dribble in isolation against a defense that was tilted completely in his direction.  He consistently dribbled into poor positions on the court and then fired low percentage jumpers that would struggle to go in on his best of nights, but had no chance on this night where his shot was clearly off.  Even his good looks at the basket weren’t dropping as Kobe had what was almost an over-sense of urgency to his game.  Every shot seemed rushed or out of rhythm and his entire demeanor reflected a player that was maybe too into the the game and wanted the win too much.  Qualities that are surely admirable, but also ones that rarely lead to positive actions on the court.

But it wasn’t only Kobe that was shooting poorly.  His 1st lieutenant Pau Gasol was also having a poor shooting night.  Hell bent on attacking the basket as often as possible, Pau just couldn’t seem to get his shots off against the inside length of KG and Rasheed.  It seemed like every other one of his shot attempts was blocked as his forays into the paint for lay ups and jump hooks were all strongly contested by the C’s big men.  And he had just as little success with his mid range jumper as Gasol didn’t connect on a shot outside the paint the entire evening.

But, where the Lakers fell short in knocking down shots they came up big in recovering their misses.  In fact, it was the Lakers ability to gobble up offensive rebounds that even kept this game close.  Because while the C’s were holding the Lakers to sub 30% shooting for most of the evening, they could not secure the defensive rebounds that would have turned this game into a blow out.  Instead, they allowed the Lakers to grab offensive rebounds on missed shot after missed shot and secure the extra possessions that kept the Lakers within striking distance.  On the evening the Lakers grabbed an astounding 23 offensive rebounds (compared to 32 defensive rebounds for Boston) and just beat down Boston on the boards the entire night.  In the end, the Lakers won the rebounding battle 53-40 and considering how important that stat was in this series this was a major factor in determining the winner of the game.  In the wake of this loss, Boston will surely be kicking themselves for not cleaning their defensive glass better.

Boston will also be kicking themselves because of the performance that they allowed from Ron Artest.  Normally, if both Kobe and Pau are having inefficient shooting nights the other team is sure to win the game.  But tonight, Ron wouldn’t allow it.  Tonight, Ron played like the former all-star that was once considered one of the best two way players in the league.  Because not only did Ron play his usual top notch defense on Paul Pierce, but he also brought his offense with him to game 7.  Every which way the ball could be scored, Ron did it.  On one play he got a steal (one of his 5 on the night, by the way) dribbled behind his back and took the ball the distance for a lay up.  On another play, he pinned Pierce under the hoop, grabbed an offensive rebound, and scored on a put back.  In the 4th quarter (when the Lakers were in the middle of making their push and trying to get over the Mt. Everest sized hump of the C’s 3-5 point lead) Ron made a strong cut off of a Gasol post up, received the pass, drew contact, and then finished the lay up with the foul.  But of all his big buckets – and there were several considering how much his scoring kept the Lakers in the game – no shot was bigger than the one that Artest hit with a minute left in the game and the Lakers nursing a 3 point lead.  On the play, Kobe (after drawing a trap at the top of the key) hit Ron with a pass that allowed Artest to step into a three pointer and bury the shot to put the Lakers back up by 6.  On a night where Ron did so many things right that he was easily the player of the game, this shot may have been his biggest contribution.

But, Ron wasn’t alone in playing well.  Sure, I mentioned that Kobe and Pau didn’t shoot well, but they did other things superbly – especially the work they did on the glass.  Those two combined for 34 of the Lakers’ 53 rebounds (19 for Gasol, 15 for Kobe), with Pau collecting 9 offensive boards in the game.  Lamar Odom didn’t have a memorable stat line (7 points, 7 rebounds) but his effort in the 4th quarter made a real difference.  He pushed the ball, attacked the offensive glass, and had two huge put backs that ignited his team and the crowd.  And then there was Fish.  I don’t think it would be a Lakers Finals without a big shot from Derek Fisher.  With the Lakers desperately trying to get over the (aforementioned Mt. Everest sized) hump, it was Fisher that nailed a huge three pointer to tie the game at 64 with a shade over six minutes left in the game.  It was that bucket that got the Lakers going in the fourth quarter and created the momentum that carried them home.  And I haven’t even mentioned the gutty performance from Bynum, the solid minutes from Shannon and Farmar (who gave goose eggs in the scoring department, but played well when called on) or the two free throws that Sasha hit to ice the game in the closing seconds.

And really, that’s the take away from this game.  The Lakers won this title as a team.  On a night when the ball just didn’t want to go in the hoop, the Lakers played fantastic team basketball on defense and did all the little things that a championship team does to win the game.  When things looked as bad as they possibly could (down 13 in the 3rd period), the Lakers stuck together and battled back with the poise and perseverance befitting of a title winner.  When Kobe and Pau couldn’t make a shot, Ron did.  When a big bucket was needed, Fish stepped up.  When the Lakers needed that extra push, it was the fresh legs of Farmar, Shannon, and Sasha that provided that kick.  Everyone played their role; everyone played together to pull out the win.

So, here we are.  The goal for every team is to win the last game of the season and tonight the Lakers did just that.  After 105 games, they are the repeat champions of the NBA.  Let that sink in for a moment.  All through this season we followed this team through the ups and downs.  Through the game winners and the tough losses.  And as hard as it was at times, we tried to enjoy the journey knowing that getting to this point was indeed possible.  And now that it’s done and our faith has been rewarded, nothing could feel better.  Today we celebrate.  The Lakers are on top again.  Say it with me: your Los Angeles Lakers, the 2010 NBA Champions.  Yes indeed.

Back To Back!

Darius Soriano —  June 17, 2010

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We’ll recap the game a bit later, but for now celebrations are in order. This wasn’t the prettiest game, but the outcome couldn’t be sweeter. The Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA’s 2010 Champions and have claimed their 2nd title in as many seasons.

Through all the adversity and all the ups and downs, they did it. Congratulations to Dr. Buss, Mitch Kupchak, Phil Jackson, Kobe, Pau, Fish, Ron, Bynum, LO, Farmar, Shannon, Sasha, Luke, Powell, Ammo, and DJ. You are champions. Again. Savor this. Simply Amazing. Whoo!

So use this thread to share your joy with all us Lakers fans. Our guys came out on top and right now there is no greater feeling than that.