The Los Angeles Lakers finally nailed their 15th NBA championship following their masterful 99-86 victory against the Orlando Magic to clinch the Finals series, 4-1 before a silent Amway Arena crowd just today.
And there are so many lessons we can derive from the Lakers chase for the championship.
Beaten up badly by Boston (39 points in Game 6) last season in the Finals, Los Angeles, led by this year’s Finals MVP Kobe Bryant, believed that had to be the turning point of their 2009 campaign as they vowed to win it all this year.
And the Lakers didn’t disappoint.
Several players were criticized for their performance in last year’s Finals.
Pau Gasol was labeled as “too soft” for a frontline man of LA. Lamar Odom, the subject of numerous trade talks in the past, has had his own struggles offensively and defensively, while Derek Fisher was said to be “aging fast that his three-point shooting wouldn’t drop anymore”.
But the seven-foot Gasol worked hard after that Finals debacle in 2008, upping his inside game, rebounding and defense several notches, more. Odom, meantime, learned to come out strong off the bench throughout this season to provide the energy LA needed.
Fisher, on the other hand, reserved his best game of the season with his heroic effort in Game 4, nailing a game-tying triple to send the game into overtime. Before hitting the go-ahead three-point shot in the extra five-minute session to cement his place among the NBA clutch shooters, while pushing LA to a 3-1 series lead.
And of course, Kobe Bryant has the biggest smile among these Laker players.
Long dismissed to be just a good player following the disintegration of his partnership with All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal at the end of the 2004 Finals defeat against Detroit, Bryant worked his way back to the top.
He sure, had his down moments during the post-O’Neal era of the Lakers.
But LA coach Phil Jackson gave a “capsulized” description of the Lakers 2009 edition.
“This (Laker) team is a learned team. They have learned from last year’s Finals (against the Celtics),” said Jackson, who is now the winningest coach with 10 NBA titles, surpassing Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach’s achievement.
And here’s O’Neal’s twitter message to Kobe.
“When you’re together, you can withstand adversity. Congratualtions Kobe, u deserve it. You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it.
The Laker land ain’t a Kobe show anymore because Bryant spells Los Angeles as TEAM.