10 years ago on this day, Kobe Bryant avenged the 2008 finals loss against Boston Celtics. If there’s one history you know about, it’s definitely the Celtics and the Lakers. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry has been prevalent in NBA since the league started. From Jerry West’s Lakers vs Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 60s, the famous Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry in 80s to Kobe Bryant single-handedly carrying sub-par lakers to NBA finals and ‘finishing the job’ in ’09 and ’10.
The Celtics ‘Big 3’ Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were dominating the league like Miami Heat in 2012. However, the Lakers didn’t have Shaq in 2010. It gave Kobe a chance to put the “Shaq carried Kobe” narrative to an end for good. After all, without Kobe Shaq won one championship whereas Kobe won two. In contrast to how the league is right now, predicting the winner was actually difficult. The 7-Game series between Celtics and Lakers left everyone on the edge of their seat that year.
With Shaq out of the picture, Kobe was commanding all the double teams in that series. Comparing Kobe’s numbers with Celtics would be unfair as they had more people to rely on offensively. Although Kobe struggled in the finals, he averaged 28.7 points all while playing lockdown defense. Pau Gasol and Derrick Fisher came up big in finals. Finally, when Sasha Vujacic hit those clutch free throws our rection was probably same as that of Kobe’s.
The Pau Gasol-Finals MVP controversy
Kobe was awarded the Finals MVP but he was not the fan favorite for that award because his brilliant playoffs performance didn’t translate into stats. People went as far as to say Pau Gasol should have been awarded the finals MVP. Kobe is known as a volume scoring offensive nightmare for other teams, but a bit of a “ball hog”. But in Game 7 he couldn’t hit a shot until like the 4th quarter.
This game, when he was running on fumes and anger, he still found a way to win when his legs wouldn’t let him get his shot off right. He knew that whichever team won the rebound battle won the game, so he made sure to eat up every rebound he could and show trust in Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and Derrik Fisher.
He made his team better. The kind gravity that Kobe attracted was insane. All the double teams that Kobe commanded facilitated open shots for Gasol and Fisher. In addition, a reliable sixth man in Lamar Odom culminated in Kobe’s 5th and final championship.
He had won rings with Shaq and then feasted on the league between ’08-’10 with a roster full of scrubs.