Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers captured the franchise’s 15th NBA title after they toppled the Orlando Magic in Game 5, 99-86. This is Kobe’s 4th title – his first without Shaquille O’ Neal.
Bryant said that the can’t-win-without-Shaq talks annoyed him.
It was like Chinese water torture,” he said. “I would cringe every time. I was just like, it’s a challenge I’m just going to have to accept because there’s no way I’m going to argue it. You can say it until you’re blue in the face and rationalize it until you’re blue in the face, but it’s not going anywhere until you do something about it.
Kobe averaged 32.4 points per game and was named Finals MVP.
On the other hand, Phil Jackson also has broken the tie between him and Red Auerbach as winningest coach in finals history. He won six titles with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and now have four with the Lakers.
I’ll smoke the cigar tonight in memory of Red,” Jackson said. “He was a great guy.
Though Jackson and Bryant had a strained relationship and were briefly separated, it couldn’t be denied that they would be needing each other to attain their goals. Jackson now sees a different Kobe.
He’s learned how to become a leader in a way in which people want to follow him,” Jackson said. “That’s really important for him to have learned that because he knew that he had to give to get back in return, and so he’s become a giver rather than just a guy that a demanding leader. That’s been great for him and great to watch.
After the hard fought playoffs, the Lakers now have the title in their hands. After being humiliated in last year’s Game 6, they’ve redeemed themselves.