My aunts and uncle called me from L.A. just as the game was ending. All I could hear was a loud buzzing from my phone – it was them cheering, hooting, hollering, letting the world know that the Los Angeles Lakers are now the NBA champions.
Did the Orlando Magic realize they were in an NBA final? They looked lost. The Lakers, on the other hand, knew exactly where they were. Their five-game series win doesn't quite sweep away the drubbing they got from the Boston Celtics last year, but they did become one of only two teams to win the NBA championship a year after losing. As a franchise, the Lakers have won 50 percent of the finals they have played in. They can legitimately claim to be one of the most dominant franchises in sports.
This is the tenth NBA title for legendary coach Phil Jackson. (Jackson won as a player with the Knicks.) He coached the Chicago Bulls to six titles and the Lakers to four. Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher now have four each. But this year the NBA playoffs made stars out of some previously unknown players. Guys like Trevor Ariza, Houston's Aaron Brooks (whose play brought the Lakers to the brink in seven games) and the Celtics’ Glenn Davis, whose heroics on a team playing without star Kevin Garnett, made the C’s still feel like a contender before they went down to the Magic in seven. This year also brought some players like LeBron James and Dwight Howard back down to earth. In the end, though, this NBA season was all about a 30-year-old veteran named Kobe Bryant. He showed that he can win without Shaq; he is the best player in the league; and he’s got a lot more left in the tank. He's also got a team around him that is young and hungry for more.