NBA Finals: Lakers vs. Celtics Game 7 – latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-celtics-20100618,0,5118663.story

Lakers come to their own defense

Kobe Bryant is Finals MVP and Lakers rally to win second consecutive title while ending Game 7 woes against Celtics.

It started nine months ago on a quiet day in El Segundo, aspirations of a 16th NBA championship a distant possibility, but it ended with finality for the Lakers, in a victory against their hated rivals amid a blizzard of purple-and-gold confetti.

It wasn’t pretty, the teams enmeshed in a slow-speed chase to be the first to 80 points, but redemption arrived for the Lakers, an entire arena, 12 players and a 64-year-old coach who exhaled as one after the Lakers fended off the Boston Celtics, 83-79, Thursday in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

There will be a victory parade Monday, snaking its way through the heart of a city that was broken two years ago by the Celtics but invigorated Thursday at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant had 23 points on a rough shooting night, but the only number he cared about was his fifth championship ring, tying Lakers luminary Magic Johnson and moving to within one of Michael Jordan.

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“This one’s by far the sweetest,” Bryant said in front of a still-standing Staples Center crowd that, on this night, had no desire to leave early and beat traffic.

His reasoning was simple. He and his teammates overcame so many injuries and, at times, ineffectiveness to make this championship anything but tops on his list. Not to mention that it came against the Celtics.

When it was over, after the Lakers had clinched their second consecutive championship, Bryant jumped into the arms of Ron Artest, who carried the team in the first half, and was quickly joined by Sasha Vujacic and Lamar Odom on the court.

And yes, the distinct smell of cigar smoke could be detected from the courtside seats as Lakers Girls embraced one another, and Coach Phil Jackson came over for a moment with his longtime companion, Lakers executive Jeanie Buss….

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