Purple Reign: Lakers win NBA title, Kobe Bryant gets Finals MVP

06.15.09 9 years ago 151 Comments
Kobe Bryant (photo. Orlando Sentinel)

Kobe Bryant (photo. Orlando Sentinel)

It wouldn’t have even made sense for Kobe Bryant to put the finishing touches on the (so far) defining championship of his NBA career without having his own Jordan-esque moment. Midway through the third quarter of the Lakers’ Game 5 blowout in Orlando, Kobe took off on the right side of the lane, glided to the left side, and along the way threw some mid-air shakes on Dwight Howard and banked in a fallaway jumper over the big man’s outstretched fingers before hitting the ground on his backside and sliding into immortality. Just too smooth, and ranking just ahead of the baseline tomahawk dunk in the first half as the play from Kobe’s fourth championship that you’ll see replayed over and over and over again. Kobe dropped 30 points (10-23 FG, 8-8 FT), six boards, five assists, two steals and four blocks in the clincher, but it was really a total L.A. team effort. In the game’s decisive stretch — the Lakers’ 16-0 run in the second quarter, after which they were never really challenged — they were at their best when Kobe was passing the ball and everybody was getting theirs. Trevor Ariza (15 pts, 2 stls) knocked down a couple of threes, Derek Fisher got buckets on the drive and beyond the arc, Lamar Odom was all over the place, and Pau Gasol (14 pts, 15 pts, 4 blks) held it down in the paint … The Lakers led by 10 at halftime, and in the third quarter, that Kobe fallaway in the lane followed by a Kobe dime to Fisher for a baseline jumper put them up 13 and was the real dagger. After that it was just a matter of time. (Ariza tried punctuating the win with a spectacular dunk in traffic in the fourth quarter, but he missed.) … Up until that second-quarter run, Orlando looked like they had a good chance to extend the series. The Magic led at the end of the first quarter, and were up nine in the second before L.A. found its rhythm. Courtney Lee was the one who got the ball rolling, scoring eight points in the first quarter and not being shy about pulling shots in Kobe’s face. That’s why they say rookies aren’t rookies anymore once they get that far into the postseason; and that’s why some people we’re gonna give CL Smooth the “He’s just a rookie!” excuse for missing that layup in Game 2 … Aside from a last-gasp run in the fourth, the Magic just didn’t have much of a pulse in the second half. It was like they conceded the game at some point in the third, and after that just wanted to make it respectable. In the fourth, the crowd started booing after Luke Walton strolled through the lane twirling a cane for an uncontested layup … As always, L.A. succeeded when Odom (17 pts, 10 rebs) played up to his potential. His and-one reverse layup in the second quarter capped the 16-0 run, and in the second half he hit a couple huge threes. From time to time, it was like L.O. and Rashard Lewis (18 pts, 10 rebs, 6-19 FG) switched roles. Odom was the outside threat, while Rashard (coming off that awful Game 4) didn’t trust his jumper as much and put the ball on the floor more than usual … Dwight (11 pts, 10 rebs, 3 blks) was quiet, even with ABC replaying his little shimmy-into-hook shot move about 38 times. True, it was one of the most polished post moves we’ve ever seen from Dwight, but it wasn’t exactly the Dream Shake. At least he’s trying, though …

M-V-P (photo. L.A. Times)

M-V-P (photo. L.A. Times)

Going into the game, we wondered if Kobe would come out trying to put up a huge number in the clincher, but he was almost passive compared to Andrew Bynum. Dude was going for his, jacking up 11 shots in the first half but only hitting three. Bynum finished with his now-customary six points, five boards and five fouls in 16 minutes. Lakers fans and front office aren’t worried about anything right now in their championship euphoria, but by the time next season rolls around, they’re gonna want to see a LOT more from Bynum with all the money he’s making … Do you think Magic Johnson was hoping for a Lakers win? He brought out a metallic gold suit for Game 5; it was so bright he could have stuck the Larry O’Brien trophy on his lapel and walked right out of the arena without anyone noticing. Magic looked like a half-open Twix. He got that suit from the 1999 Diddy Collection … Funny moment when Dale Davis was walking through the crowd behind the Lakers bench and nobody would look him directly in the eye. The announcers were right; Dale looks like he could still dole out some harsh flagrant fouls in the League … No-brainer that Kobe got the Finals MVP, averaging 32.4 points, 5.6 boards and 7.4 assists for the series. In the fourth quarter Jeff Van Gundy said Kobe is “Machiavellian” because he wants to win “by any means necessary.” And that wasn’t even the worst of the Kobe steamfest that started in the fourth quarter and continued throughout the night. (Tim Legler entered Emergency Restraining Order territory on “NBA Fastbreak” after the game.) Mark Jackson said Kobe “has no flaws” as a player, and stood behind Odom’s statement that Kobe could be the best point guard in the NBA if he wanted to be. In the last five minutes of the game, it was like the announcers were having a contest to see who could deliver that one killer line that’s gonna anchor the Lakers 2009 championship DVD … In other news, talk has heated up about a Shaq-to-Cleveland trade. It’s not like Diesel would be any slower than Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but he can’t stretch the floor like Z with those corner/baseline jumpers. If you’re the Cavs, do you make a move to get Shaq? No matter what he says on Twitter, he’s gotta be ultra-focused on getting that 5th ring to put himself ahead of Kobe — he might actually get in shape this summer in pursuit of that ‘chip … We’re out like The Centaur …

Around The Web