Around the end of the third quarter of the Lakers’ decisive Game 6 victory over the Celtics, I began to do what any self-respecting die-hard L.A. fan would do with their team facing Game 7 against the Celtics – immediately look around my home for things to sell to get me in the door for today’s showdown. To the lucky 18,997 fans who lied, cheated, stole, bribed or otherwise maneuvered their way into what is arguably the most epic Southern California sporting event of the past decade, I say this: enjoy, savor, cherish this moment. Win or lose (especially, win), attending a Game 7 in-person against your archrival is the very reason the term “once-in-a-lifetime” was invented.
This isn’t Game 7 against Indiana, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Detroit or Orlando. These are the Boston Celtics and it means so much more. The coaches know it. The players know it. And, most importantly, Kobe knows it.
“I look back years from now or even when I was a kid, you talk about being in this situation, I’d be really excited,” said Kobe about what makes a Game 7 so unique. “But when I’m in the moment right now, I’ve got to play. I’ve got to focus on that. I can’t focus on the hype about it.”
Since Tuesday, I’ve tried my personal best not to add to the hype, but all it took was one SportsCenter Finals montage to know it was a losing battle. When some of the NBA’s all-time greats like Magic Johnson announce that even they’re ready to hit the floor and duke it out, you know you’re about to witness something special. The beauty of being a fan is that we get to soak up the emotion just as much as the players on the court, without worrying that we’re going air ball a three or otherwise wilt under the pressure.
As fans, we also get to hypothesize on the significance of this game and how 48 minutes (maybe more if we’re really lucky) of basketball has the power to shape an entire generation of players and one very prominent coach. It’s been written and talked about ad nauseum by now, but Kobe’s legacy likely hangs in the balance with Game 7. While his newly signed contract extension means the forum blue and gold will remain an elite team for at least the next two to three years, a Game 7 failure against the Celtics is the kind of thing that could stay with him for the rest of his career; the type of annoying asterisk that won’t show up in the record books, but everyone knows it’s there. It goes without saying, but if tonight’s game is close down the stretch and Bryant plays a major role in a Lakers win, his legend will reach a level that we haven’t seen in the NBA since His Airness retired.
Kobe’s not the only player whose lasting image will be shaped as the supporting players on both sides have a lot on the line too. If Pau Gasol shows up big in Game 7, he may as well hang his own jersey from the STAPLES Center rafters. A title for Ron Artest and another Game 6-type performance would go a long way toward removing the stigma surrounding a player who is undoubtedly one of the best wing defenders this league has ever seen. Lamar Odom can also cement his place in Lakers history as a super-sub with a strong Game 7. Even Andrew Bynum, one leg and all, has the ability to change perceptions with a gutty showing. Phil Jackson’s coaching future will also almost certainly be impacted by the outcome of Game 7.
As of Thursday morning, a single upper deck ticket was still going for somewhere north of $550 on most after-market ticket sites. Too much to watch the Lakers win it all or is this moment “priceless,” just like the MasterCard commercials say? Maybe tonight’s game 7 isn’t quite “life or death” as Kobe suggested, but it’s about the closest thing to it. For the privileged few inside STAPLES Center – yell with all your heart; millions of Lakers fans will live vicariously through you.
Steve W says
I talked myself into the idea of the Lakers not showing up for game 6 and wasn’t feeling much in the way of nerves on Tuesday. I almost even bet on the Celtics to help cushion the blow (glad i didn’t.. emotional hedge-bets never work out).
Today, I’m a wreck. I can’t work, my family thinks I’m crazy. It’s all on the line. Go Lakers.
Brian M says
I’m with Steve (minus the betting on the *blech* celtics part)
This game has dominated my thoughts today. It can’t come soon enough.
God, please win. Please please please win.
I am happy not seeing ole Salvator on the zebra staff tonight. I’ve never been a big Joey Crawford fan, but I have no complaints against him thus far this finals. I think they will do a decent job. They better. Equally bad if it must, but equal is important.
I’ve spent 90% of my day on this site, 10% working. I wonder how much America’s productivity has gone down today. I’m playing my part!!!
COME ON! 1 mo’! Lake Show!
My comments are going in a black whole? I hope the Celtics are down there, too.
ADD: My post disappeared!!
I said Amen to Steve’s sentiments in the first comment about being a wreck and appearing crazy. Some guys at my office put a sign on my door that says, “WARNING: Do not disturb. Approach after game 7 win. Run after game 7 loss.”
On the ticket cost front, courtside seats (true center court) are going to $65,450.00 each on barrystickets.com (4 available). Gotta love L.A.!
Anyone know how to safely self-induce a coma for 6 hours?
I will say that regardless of the outcome Bynum’s play through injury has raised my opinion of him about 20 levels. I always appreciated his skills, but now I’m a FAN of number 17.
Can’t wait for tonight. Getting the friends together and taking a group to the local sports bar to go nuts. Great time to be a fan.
lil' pau says
Amidst all the permutations on grifting and mendacity, you omitted one other way to find oneself in possession of tix for tonight’s game– to be the kind of season ticket holder who goes to every game, whether its a Finals Game 7 or a monday in January @ 6:30p yawnfest against the Pacers. As someone who hasn’t missed more than 10 or 15 games since the lakers moved to staples (including unbearably dull preseason games at full price), this is a sweet reward. I dare not even look at the price these tix could be sold for because there’s no way I would pay that amount and do retain some memory of the nature of opportunity costs, but I know the 15 or so people I see in my section at every game will be there tonight, yelling past the point of losing our voices, screaming from the tip until the balloons fall.
This is FB&G, dammit– please don’t embrace one of the most egregious anti-lakers cliches of assuming that the majority of fans are like the ones inevitably lounging around courtside in the interscope or endeavor seats, glued to their blackberries and just waiting for the Kiss Cam– there are some of us who remember weeping at the miracle that was portland game 7 and tonight busting out the shirt from that game for this one, for what is likely the biggest game of our lives.
Look past the glitz and you’ll find people who could be making a mortgage payment, but instead will be screaming at Pierce and Sheed without any sense of regret.
Let’s go Laker fans. Bring the noise– a Whitmanic Barbaric Yawp that can be heard across the country, even over the tears of Boston fans weeping into their green beer.
LET’S GO LAKERS!!!!
I’m with lil’pau one hundred percent. Bring. The. NOISE.
Does anyone else think that the upside of tonight’s game far outweighs the down?
I would HATE losing to the C’s, in LA, in the Finals, but if we’re going to lose, I would much prefer losing in 7 than 6 or fewer. Besides, consider the ride!! What a season. Regardless the outcome, tonight is going to be entertaining, exciting, and a game I will remember as long as I live.
With all that said, if the Lakers WIN……!!!
GO LAKERS! Thanks for a truly awesome season!
Taylors Boss says
Get back to work
Please play this game 7 against our rivals the Celtics more perfect than you played them in game 6!
The Celtics will play their, screaming, chest thumping, slobbering best to secure this win. Also, do not be surprised if Perkins makes an emotional appearance to start the 3rd or 4th quarter if Boston is within striking distance. If Perkins does appear, do not let this stunt derail what you are trying to accomplish.
Let’s win this championship because Kobe Bryant has done all that has been asked of him to be a champion. Win this for Pau Gasol who has been a stabilizing force and warrior this entire year. Do it for Ron Artest, a man that came to the Lakers for less money to defend all of the wing players on opposing teams, all the while letting his offense slide. Andrew Bynum has played through pain for a ring! This he has done when he easily could have just gotten a paycheck, so winning this championship matters!
Lakers, just win!
I didn’t know you were a Lakers fan?! We are in PHX after all. Come down here and blog with me!!!!
Craig W. says
Andrew is the youngest player ever drafted into the NBA. He came in with very little actual game action – due to injuries in high school. This was a very young big man in a sport that requires more seasoning of their centers than any other position. He has been subjected to the most intense scrutiny by a public that expects instant gratification of any of their sports figures – on a team where fans demanded post season success as a given. To top it off he has a personality that more closely approximates Kareem than it does Magic.
I have never been in the group pressing for us to trade this young man and I am extremely happy for him now — now that he has shown us so much grit.
He will probably not ever be an 82game player in the regular season, but remember most 7ft centers are not extremely durable – it comes with the size. However, he does provide us with someone who will be successful after both Kobe and Pau have retired.
staples fans can be a little flaky, but they will rise to the occasion. their effort usually reflects what the lakers put out. so it will be loud, rowdy and rude tonight. i don’t know if you can see it on the tv, but when tony allen walked to the corner of the court towards the end of the game, about 40 lakers stood out and started to point and scream at him. during the half time, big bloated shrek was trying to make a shot, and about 30 fans were really giving it to him. it got so bad he had to look at em. not all laker fans at the games are glitz and glam, sugar and spice.
Does anyone else think that the upside of tonight’s game far outweighs the down?
I think they are equal. That is one of many reasons it is so intense. The internet intensifies the experience in many ways. And, the Showtime teams never played a G7 with Boston. Add in the rest–Kobe, Phil, 2008 etc. this is
a) Probably the single biggest game in Los Angeles Lakers history (maybe G7 1969 was on the same level in its time–but that was a very different era). Had either ’85 or ’87 gone to a G7, that might have matched it, but neither series did.
b) Will IMO without any question be the most emotional night for the fanbase and the organization since the team moved to Los Angeles, win or lose.
I know in my head that “it’s only basketball” and our families, friends, jobs, goals, spiritual and physical health etc. are ultimately what matters in life. But right now, my stomach doesn’t know that.
This situation comes as close to “life and death” as it gets for a fan in American sports, I think. In my case, for example, I have two social invitations this weekend, not related to basketball and involving friends who are not basketball fans. I have told both people tendering the invitations that whether I will feel like going and hanging out depends on whether the Lakers win this game.
well, here we are; there is just no way to foresee what will happen tonight. this will probly come down to all of the good and bad karma that’s been piling up over the year – for both teams! and, just maybe, some of that old, unavenged karma that’s just been awaiting its moment will come to the fore!!
Wow, inspiring post lil’ pau. Made me choke up just a bit. Glad to know you’ll be at Staples tonight. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this anxious. Maybe Phil needs to teach us Laker fans how to meditate…
Paul R. says
I am wondering on what they will be wearing tonight.
The white maybe. Hmp
I think the yellow is much better.
I just realized I have three different browser windows all simultaneously open to FB&G…I’m a little excited about tonight’s game.
I can’t even think straight! The game can not come soon enough…
I think needle said it best yesterday –
“No false sense of security! We need to kill them over and over and over.”
With all the Laker courtesy I can muster, will people please stop propagating that nonsensical meme about Kobe’s “legacy” hanging in the balance? That’s utter tripe. He’s already got a Hall of Fame multi-championship legacy. It already is what it is. To get another ring would add to that legacy. Not to get another ring would not add to the legacy, but it would not detract from it either. What’s already been achieved can’t be unachieved.
Game preview is up.
I completely disagree – a player’s “legacy” is more about perception than it is about reality – it is the cumulation of what people perceive about that player’s career. So while your opinion about Kobe might not be affected by what happens tonight, that isn’t the case with a lot of people.
That may be the case, but one would like to think that perception would have at least something to do with reality. If it doesn’t, it becomes something closer to delusion. My argument would be that by propagating that meme, people are encouraging a distorted perception, one that gets farther from reality. Why not encourage more accurate perceptions and discourage inaccurate ones, to the the extent that you can? That is, I know that many people view “legacy” in the way you describe, but basically, why buy into that?
Worst officiated game of the series. Paul Pierce flopping all over the floor, the lakers can’t get to the line. This is unbelievable, I can’t believe some of the shots that kobe is throwing up.