Mark J. Terrill/AP
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant holds up the Larry O'Brien Trophy during the trophy ceremony after the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics, 83-79, to win Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
The Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA championship, beating the Boston Celtics, their long-time franchise rival, in game seven of the series.
Down by 13 points at one stage in the first half and with their superstar Kobe Bryant having a subpar performance, the Lakers clawed back in the second half and took a small lead late late in the fourth quarter that they never relinquished.
For the Lakers, Thursday's victory meant back-to-back titles. For Bryant, it was his fifth championship and his second Most Valuable Player award.
The championship would only add fuel to the argument: who's greater, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? It's ultimately a fruitless, but entertaining, discussion.
But while Bryant won the MVP, he could have easily shared the award with his teammates, especially Pau Gasol, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher, each who gave the Lakers critical points and energy when they were urgently needed.
The championship was especially redemptive for Artest who had earned a reputation as a head case for such incidents as the one in 2004, when as an Indiana Pacer, he ran into the stands in Detroit to fight with fans.
Thus, no one who knew his history was surprised when, during a post-game interview, among the many people he thanked was his psychiatrist who helped him "relax."
For the Celtics, it was a particularly hard landing. The team had a relatively unimpressive regular season but peaked at the right time, the playoffs. They just ran out of season.
Before the game, the Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote this was likely the final go round for this Celtics team:
This will never happen again. Not with this group.
Ray Allen might be gone next year. Paul Pierce could opt to leave this summer. Coach Doc Rivers says he’s not sure he’s coming back. Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis are the only Celtic substitutes under contract for 2010-11.
Even if by some chance they all return, they will never get to another Game 7 in the Finals. Allen and Kevin Garnett are 34, and their rookie-issue NBA tires are almost as bald as their heads. Pierce turns 33 this year. There are three other thirtysomethings on the bench.
This is it. The last stand for the old guard.