The Los Angeles Lakers controlled their own destiny in this defining game 5, just as they have all year. The Lakers have been their own worst enemy in practically every loss this season. Their 2009 postseason consisted of numerous ups and downs, extreme peaks and valleys, a virtual rollercoaster of highs and lows that had this diehard agreeing with Kobe in referring to his beloved team as bi-polar.
They showed all the signs of it. Where there’s that much smoke there is usually fire.
The Houston Rockets took them to the full seven games allowed with the Lakers pulling two disappearing acts that rank right up there with Houdini and D.B. Cooper. Failing to compete whatsoever in games 4 and 6. The Lakers were so unpredictable that the lowly Denver Nuggets even had the pundits claiming the Lakers were going to get bounced in the Western Conference Championship round by a franchise that hadn’t smelled that air since Michael Jackson was considered normal.
Even with a strong showing in the Finals the Lakers still had us all guessing coming into game five. Game one was the only game in this series that didn’t go down to the wire. This series could have easily been 3-1 in favor of the team from Florida…or so they said. Would they respond with a strong effort and crush the will of the Orlando Magic or would the Jekyll and Hyde Lakers rear their ugly head once again by mailing it in and fuel the fire of the non-believers. The doubters were out in force all over the internet these past few days and with their 6th consecutive all out effort in as many games, Showtime has returned to Los Angeles. The title now resides in LaLaLand for the fourth time this decade. It took 6 tries to get it, but much like the Olympic “Redeem Team”, the Lakers now have their much sought after day of redemption…sing it Bob, sing it.
Had they lost this game, especially in the manner in which they lost games to Houston and Denver, they would have perpetuated the cycle of doubt, pouring gas on the fire of those who say they aren’t a team capable of such things. Instead, they made a statement and left no doubt that the best team in the NBA is the Los Angeles Lakers…The argument is in the refrigerator –The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butters getting hard and the jello’s jiggling.
In this one game, the past is forgotten and the path to the championship looks much different than it did yesterday. Yesterday they were capable of failing, but as of right now they are defending champions who dispatched a team that toppled the reigning champion Celtics, brought down a King yet couldn’t “Beat L.A.” as so many arenas around the league seem to want to do so badly. The chant did surface tonight, but the Lakers have heard that song countless times before and were not going to be denied.
No letdown, no lackadaisical half-ass effort from the purple and gold clad visitors this time, just pure unadulterated power of will. In a concerted effort to shed the doubt and slay the demon of doubt that they created themselves, the Los Angeles Lakers seized the moment and did not let up one iota all when all the marbles were at stake, they played like champions should play and TOOK what they felt was theirs.
Revisionist history sees the Lakers we all watched with baited breath, with the back of the brain questioning, the corner of your eye uneasiness that they may let you down or forget to take out the garbage that a child might bring out of you and instead looked every bit the dominant lion of the pride…Roaring back at the challenging young male, putting him in his place and claiming the throne for his own. They were the Lakers that beat the Celtics on Christmas Day, the Lakers that came back and beat them again to break double digit winning streaks by the Cavaliers and Celtics that some called fluke victories. Hard to say such things now. In retrospect, the things that stand out aren’t the voids in the heart department or soft labels attached to our big men, but a 4-1 Finals domination of a worthy opponent a team that followed each and every post-season loss with a victory and changed perceptions about them that they brought on themselves.
More importantly, they did it as a TEAM with much maligned players like Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom playing important roles along the way. Kobe deservedly wins the MVP for being the leader, but make no mistake, this is a TEAM victory. The individual accolades like Phil’s 10th title or Kobe’s first ring without Shaq pale in comparison to the culmination of the reversal of perception the Lakers pulled off by winning in such convincing fashion.
They have come full circle and can now by unequivocally called “Champions”, without any doubts, contradiction or asterisks.
The 2008-2009 Los Angeles Lakers:
WE KNEW DRAMA