Monday, June 15th, 2009 at 11:00 am  |  28 responses

‘Like a Big Ol’ Monkey Off My Back’

by Marcel Mutoni

When Derek Fisher knocked in the decisive three-pointer in Game 4, one thing became immediately clear — not just to Laker fans, but anyone with a modicum of NBA basketball understanding: The Los Angeles Lakers were going to win the 2009 championship.

After that game, for the first time this season, we could finally breathe easily. I even spent the weekend in beautiful San Diego, hardly thinking about the events taking place in Orlando, and instead soaking in the great weather, scenery and night life. The NBA Finals had become almost an afterthought. There was no more drama; we were going to be crowned as champs once again.

It’s hard to put into words just how painful of a loss last year’s spanking at the hands of the Celtics was. Game 6 of the 2008 Finals is all anyone ever talks about, but the crushing Game 4 loss is what ultimately decided that series. There was a fatal brutality to that defeat, an emphatic reminder that L.A., talented as they may have been, simply wasn’t ready to win a title.

This year, there was an uneasiness to the entire season — each success was met with a stinging reminder that nothing mattered until a championship was won.

Winning a boatload of games in the regular season, en route to the top spot in the Western Conference was meaningless, for it didn’t guarantee the Larry O’Brien trophy. And the struggles to snuff the life from its opponents in the earlier stages of the postseason only served as ammunition for the team’s critics.

In the championship round, that’s when it all came together for this group. They showed why they’re the best basketball team in the world, led by its greatest player and coach.

When things got tight, they didn’t panic; they simply executed on both ends of the court, and together, they became champions.

Looking ahead, the Laker front office will have to address numerous questions over the summer (the contract situations of Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom, what to with Derek Fisher, plus Phil Jackson’s coaching status for next year), but for the time being, it’s time to celebrate a job well done. After Shaq left town five years ago, they slowly recovered from the wreckage, painstakingly rebuilt the team around Kobe Bryant, and are now finally back on top of the NBA mountain.

There’s nothing left to prove for Bryant, Phil Jackson and the rest of the team. By winning this title, they quieted all of the doubters, and further cemented their places in the game’s history.

“It feels so good to be able to have this,” Bryant said postgame last night. “I don’t have to hear that criticism, that idiot criticism, anymore.”

Neither do the Lakers.

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  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    enjoy it, cuz it doesnt look like they will have the same team next season. maybe they could trade vujachiclets and mbenga for devin harris

  • kdsujdfgkh

    no way nets would accept that trade

  • Royal

    Vujachiclets??? LOL

  • http://twitter.com/NotebookNick thesubwayconnection

    Honestly, I think they came together in the Houston series. Gravy after that.

  • Naiym1

    Yeah, Kobe was on a mission, but he might as well enjoy 4..That’s all he’ll get. The LAkers won’t win another one. Especcialy w/o Ariza…Someone’s gonna pay some serious paper for him..and with Odom leaving…pretty much done. LMBO @ Vujachiclets..AHAHAH!

  • truthteller

    Did you guys really think that LA wasn’t going to return to the finals this year? Here’s my prediction: Boston vs LA next year!

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE |

  • Telln the truth

    DAAMMNNNN C how much KG impacted the NBA this season????? C w/o him the celtics couldnt rly compete Orlando, then they got lucky and took out lebron…. tht wuda been a much better series dont u think???? lebron vs. kobe???? but wateva happy to c kobe win nd derek fisher cool too, but i dnt like gasol and odom i dnt think they wrk hard enough… gasol is still soft to me. Yep hopefully lebron gets his second chance next year…

  • http://nba.com Reflex

    ‘Telln the truth’ , it’s almost like you went out of your to show that a lot of sh1t can be written in just 6 sentences, bravo.

  • Jackie Moon

    Mission Accomplished.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    Shaq has 2 more Finals MVP’s than you do. Back to work, boy.

  • Fernando Alexander B.

    Ish #66 isthe best without a shadow of a doubt, its has “The Closer” with three ChamPionShip already at his feet. This is Kobe at the beginning middle of his career, he became the measuring stick in the L and world. The best is yet to come because Black Mamba wasn’t at the peal of histalent/career yet, with yesterdays win Kobe & Lakers became the best of the decade. The Little Flying Warrior has love for this like no other i’ve seen in slam existent, his actions speak louder that any words he can say. In other words; the butter is cold,the jello is giggly, close the refrigerator door,The Dark Knight has hung is cape and it’s over.

  • http://slamonline Truth Speak

    Shaq is nothing ba a thug. I didn’t think he deserved his MVPs. He’s worst than Howard with all his banging people and getting away with it. Kobe’s MVP last night was worth more then Shaq could ever get — The sweet taste of victory and truly deserving it. Shaq couldn’t win without Kobe nor D Wade. Trading Shaq was the best thing that ever happened to him. If the Lakers kept him he would have never gotten himself into the shape like he did for Miami. What did Miami do the next year — dropped his fat butt like a hot potato. There’s NO COMPARISON to last nights MVP for Kobe vs Shaq. Kobe had a team, he’s matured and admits so. I admire someone who doesn’t bad talk like Shaq and just proves people wrong. Kobe will be back to the finals to win more.

  • http://slamonline Truth Speak

    Ever since that KG situation with Gasol everyone thinks his weak. It’s much easer to push down then to push up — gravity. What would all of you be saying if Pau would have moved the ball from under KG when he did his power play and fell flat on his A**. LOL!!! KG is nothing but a thug and the reffs let him get away with all his moving picks and such. KG wouldn’t have made any difference this year had he played. With that in mind you could say had the Lakers had their big guy they could have won too.

  • Naiym

    Wow Truth Speaks….stop….speaking..that is! you are delusional

  • Chrystal K.

    I’m so happy for them…Yay!

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Ummm…pretty sure Kobe is the one throwing elbows like crazy Truth Teller…who’s the thug?

  • http://slamonline Have some class

    It’s no delusion — the Lakers won with a strong Gasol! It takes a strong person to put up with all that brutality and not retaliate like an anima ( Gorilla)l with double fisted punches. Is that how everyone wants Gasol to react like an animal out of control — PLEASE! I was only wishful thinking when I mentioned Pau moving the ball away from KG — get over it — just a fantasy. wayno, the name is Truth Speak not Truth Teller get it straight like your facts. If you were actually watching the all the games, ALL players do and create fouls, Never said Kobe didn’t throw that elbow in game 4. Just saying most time it happens is because he’s the one being held up. Seems like Kobe has to get 10 fouls happen to him before the reffs call one for him. If you look at game 4, all the slow motion playbacks speaks for themselves. Kobe goes for a 3pt shot, makes it and Gorilla hands fouls him – no foul called and on and on…. Well, no matter anyway — Lakers won over reffs non calls.

  • http://slamonline Truth Speak

    Wow how’d that happen, even the blog got my name wrong.

  • Hello? Wilt Chamberlain is that you?

    Shaq>>>>>>>>>>> Howard. Now that’s some “truth speak”…
    Back to the matter at hand, LA’s offseason will be very interesting. Many many big “if’s”
    If they can re-sign one or both of Odom an Ariza.
    If Phil stays on.
    If they can find replacements in case Odom or Ariza move on.
    If they can do something about the point guard position.
    If Bynum can get his head together (probably the biggest of the “if’s” really.
    No matter whatm Mitch Kupcake has some work to do and as a Laker fan I’m not overly filled with optimism… We’ll have to wait and see.

  • Hello? Wilt Chamberlain is that you?

    But IF he can do a good job in the offseason they could come back even better next season.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Derek Fisher OWNED the pg spot during the NBA finals – I don’t know why everyone is getting so worried about the Lakers at this position. Derek is as healthy as he’s ever been, his back up Farmar and Farmars backup, the machine play well through the reg. season so it’s not a big deal. Lamar will get some money and Ariza will either be happy to get some crumb or just hold out for a big cheque elsewhere and pretty much go away.

  • chintao

    Does anyone else think that Shaq will take offense to being called a monkey?

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    So the Rockets get a share of the Finals bonus Money, right?

  • http://www.eric32woodyard.wordpress.com Eric Woodyard

    SHAQ who?? lol

  • Blue

    lol! co-sign Darksaber

  • Robb

    Snaq O Meal isn’t half the player Kobe is. All he’s got is size. Without it he’s nothin.