Like a perfect Hollywood script, the Los Angeles Lakers fought to pull it out in the fourth tonight. Our LAKERS are the NBA Champions once again! And by default, we are champions, too.
We are the fans. We don’t even make contact with the ball and yet somehow we feel we’ve got some influence over the game. Their wins are ours to celebrate; their losses are ours to mourn.
And to anyone who says Los Angeles’ fans are fair-weather, you clearly were not at tonight’s game.
(It’s fair to say that L.A. effs up every celebration with idiotic violence & vandalism though. Honestly, what is wrong with us???)
Tonight, an emotional basketball rivalry came down to the final seconds. Our boys were down 13 at one point. And who stood on their feet rallying the entire time? The fans. Tonight, fans facing heartbreak stood inside Staples Center cheering on their home team in hopes of collectively willing them back into the game.
And maybe they actually did.
Or maybe it was just Ron Artest’s shrink.
Me, I had three Laker-wardrobe changes during the game… until FINALLY one tank top felt like it was generating some luck in the fourth quarter. (Maybe I should see Artest’s shrink?)
Of course it was the Lakers themselves who brought their championship team hearts out in the final minutes to clinch the win – and a fifth ring for Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. Despite racking up 15 rebounds and more points than any other player, Kobe had an off game. But on this night, he wasn’t out there alone. Everyone showed up and he got all the backup a captain could ask for.
Pau, with the grace of no other ‘big man,’ was insurmountable; Artest played the role of MVP, instead of Forrest Gump; and Sasha came right off the bench to nail two crucial free throws (a brilliant move by Phil Jackson).
“I just wanted it so, so bad. The more I tried to push, the more it got away. I’m just glad my teammates got us back in it.” –Kobe Bryant
Finally Kobe is able to say this! How many times has he sat at the post-show in compliance with his contract, uttering short retorts to reporters, when he wanted to scream, “Is anyone ever gonna get off their ass and help me out there?”
Kobe will probably catch hell tomorrow for his “I got one more than Shaq” comment – but on this night, after this exhausting season and revengeful series, and staying tight-lipped all this time, how could he not say it?
A lifelong student of basketball, Kobe plays every game with the impenetrable focus and passion of no other player in the league today. Tonight, he was the captain of a team who was not backing down.
Tonight, the fortitude of his team brought grown men to tears of adoration. Tonight, ugly as the game got, he ended up with the last possession and a smile that lit up the city.
Seriously, how could he not say it?