In terms of putting a neat little bow on Kobe Bryant‘s legacy, this one didn’t exactly go as planned. In the days, hours and minutes leading up to Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the biggest topic of debate was what impact a win (or loss) would have on Kobe’s career. So with the Lakers winning their 16th championship as a franchise, Kobe getting the fifth ‘chip of his career, and L.A. its second in a row — albeit marked by Kobe playing one of the worst games of his playoff life — it’s tough to put a definitive period on the end of the sentence … If you only like scoring and offense, Game 7 was ugly. If you appreciate tough defense, cutthroat competition, and two teams willing to give up their bodies and beat the snot out of each other for a championship, Game 7 was beautiful. For three and a half quarters, it was all Boston. Kobe (6-24 FG) couldn’t find a clean look at the basket, and with the refs allowing the Celtics to play physical, he was also frustrated by not getting calls he usually gets … The Lakers fell behind by as much as 13 in the third quarter, but put together a 9-0 run in the fourth to get back in it. Kobe (23 pts, 15 rebs, 11-15 FT) found his stroke at the right time, and after L.A. got Boston in the penalty, it was a free-throw parade down the stretch. Rasheed Wallace and Rajon Rondo each hit huge threes to keep the C’s within one possession in the final minutes, but Sasha Vujacic stepped to the line with 11 seconds left and drilled the most important free throws of his life to put L.A. up by four and effectively end it … Kobe got MVP of the series — averaging 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals — but you could have made a strong case for Pau Gasol. “The Spaniard” (Kobe’s nickname for him) put up 18.6 points, 11.6 boards and 2.6 blocks, and in the games the Lakers won, Gasol was arguably the lynchpin even more than Kobe, including the one leading L.A.’s dominance of the offensive glass last night … But for Game 7, you could also give Ron Artest his own MVP. Artest (20 pts, 5 stls) responded as a scorer when Kobe struggled, and made some clutch buckets in the fourth quarter. On the other end, he kept Paul Pierce (18 pts, 5-15 FG) in check, especially in the fourth when Pierce needed to take over as Boston couldn’t produce any offense … And how insane was Ron’s post-game interview? After thanking his ‘hood, Ron thanked his psychiatrist (“She really helped me calm down”), shilled his new single (“I recorded a song called ‘Champions’ LAST JUNE!”), and hugged the interviewer when he was done. And then his press conference was even more hilarious than that … What happened to Ray Allen in this series? He was great defensively against Kobe in Game 7, but continuing his weird up-and-down (mostly down) shooting, Ray couldn’t buy himself a bucket with an AmEx Black Card and three forms of ID. On his way to hitting 3-for-14 from the field, Ray was bricking threes, blowing layups, and even missed a free throw … So much is being made about Kobe tying Magic with five rings, but what about Derek Fisher tying Michael Cooper with five? Who do you think has been L.A.’s greatest role player between those two? … How mad would you be if you’d spent money on 2nd-row courtside season tickets at Staples Center, you’d gotten all the way to Game 7 of the Finals, and now you can’t see because Kendrick Perkins is standing in your way. But then you’re not gonna yell at the Angry Green Giant to sit down, are you? … Mark Jackson got real ‘hood towards the end of that fourth quarter, didn’t he? “I’ma roll these dice, and I bet’ not crap out!” Jax growled to punctuate a Kobe jumper in crunch time … Congrats to Lamar Odom for winning a title ring you can keep for yourself. Enjoy the moment, have fun at the parade, but you know the next time we talk we’ve gotta ask: How the hell did you have Brian Scalabrine guarding you 1-on-1 full court, and you couldn’t take him to the rack? You’re from New York City, son! … You know you’ve been watching too many World Cup games when Kobe flails his arm at Rondo after a foul and you expect Joey Crawford to come running at Kobe holding a yellow card … New rule: If a series gets to Game 7, players call their own fouls. Or maybe not. If a meaningless playground game to 21 can take an hour and a half ’cause dudes are arguing over calls, an NBA game might take 5 hours … We’re out like the season …
Smack / Jun 18, 2010 / 5:41 am
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