Whew, I’m glad that’s over ! For most of last night’s game , it looked like the Celtics were going to pull off an improbable victory. Their offense may not have been great but their defense was stellar and Kobe Bryant wasn’t making things easier , forcing up shots even when double teamed. When the Lakers were still behind in the fourth, I was just about ready to give up. Then, miraculously, the Laker defense tightened , the Celtics ran out of gas and the Lakers got back in the game . As Kobe began to defer to his teammates instead of doing it all himself , as he concentrated on rebounding and passing the ball, they stepped up and bailed him out. Ron and Fish and Pau hit some shots and Pau continued to be a beast on the boards as the Lakers inched ahead. I was just beginning to relax when the Celtics made one last ditch effort. Trailing by five , Rondo hustled after a rebound, got it in the right corner , turned and swished in a 3 to make it a two point game ! Rondo!! Rajon Freaking Rondo, whose jumper had deserted him, who was barely making 50% of his free throws!! That same Rondo making a three !! Was this some omen ? Were the Lakers going to somehow lose after coming so close ? The last 16 seconds took a long , long time before Sasha iced two free throws and it was finally, finally over and I could go to bed .. happy, happy, happy !!
From a basketball point of view , this was not a beautiful game. In the face of some stifling defense, both teams shot poorly. Both teams were tired, the Celtics more so, and it showed. Still the intensity of the game was such , the tension so high that it kept us all glued to the spectacle. Kudos to the Celtics for a gutsy performance. Handicapped by the loss of their starting center , Kendrick Perkins, they gave the Lakers all they could handle. In Perkins place, Rasheed Wallace played heroically before he fell prey to fatigue. The others too gave it their all and they have to feel proud of their season . A season in which they were only the fourth seeds but, in the playoffs, defeated both LeBron James Cavaliers and Dwight Howard’s Magic to reach the finals . As a lfelong Laker fan, I cordially detest the Celtics but even I have to give them a tip of the hat for their fighting spirit and their gallantry in defeat.
I really really was banking on a Laker win last night. As I told a friend before the game , I could handle a Laker loss to the Magic or even to the Cavaliers. A loss to the Celtics would have been a different story. I well remember the blowout loss to the 2008 Celtics after which Boston fans pelted the Laker team bus with stones. I remember Kevin McHale’s clotheslining Kurt Rambis as he went for a layup in the 1984 finals . I even remember Jerry West’s heroic 44 point performance in a loss to the Celtics in the 1969 finals. That’s what makes this Laker victory all the sweeter. The manner in which Ron Artest broke down , the way in which Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol had tears streaming down thir cheeks, and a giddy Kobe Bryant a showed how much they valued this championship, the hardest won of them all.
Last year I was not happy with the way in which the two Buss sons grabbed the spotlight at the trophy presentation. This year, I was glad to see the players and coach take centerstage. After all , it was they who won the trophy. The one person I thought was neglected both at the presentation ceremony and in the post game shows was Mitch Kupchak, the Laker GM. It was he who put together this team , his latest move being to snap up Ron Artest and let Trevor Ariza go. Yesterday, Ron-Ron validated his move and in fact was the MVP of game 7 : 20 points, 5 steals and terrific , lockdown defense on Paul Pierce. Good job, Mitch!
Tomorrow, in my next post, I’ll speculate about what the future holds for the Lakers and who their chief rivals will be as they go for a threepeat next year but for now I just want to revel in the moment. GO LAKERS !! WORLD CHAMPS, BACK TO BACK , BABY !!