Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Lakers set stage for dream NBA Finals matchup

Posted by Bill Koch on May 30, 2010

Kobe Bryant

Anybody who actually thought the Lakers wouldn’t close out the Suns on Saturday night hasn’t been paying attention.

Los Angeles sent Phoenix limping into the desert for the offseason courtesy of a 111-103 win that closed out the Western Conference finals and set up the grudge match between the Boston Celtics and the Lakers in The Finals for the 12th time. Kobe Bryant took over down the stretch and finished with 37 points, sinking contested jump shots like they were layups and putting the boots to Steve Nash and Co. almost all by himself. This is what Kobe wanted when he conducted his own covert PR campaign to shove Shaq out of town, and now he’s trying to win back-to-back championships as the clear alpha dog for the first time in his career.

The Lakers managed to break through on the road for the first time in the series, closing out their 4-2 win by beating the Suns at their own game – offensive dominance. Los Angeles seemed almost disinterested in Games 3 and 4 while losing in Phoenix, but don’t underestimate the effect that Boston finishing off Orlando the previous night to punch its own ticket to The Finals had on the Lakers’ effort. The Celtics are the team that Los Angeles wanted all along, even if the Lakers knew that they could beat the Magic like they did last season and outsmart the clueless Cleveland Cavaliers.

That stubborn streak sets Kobe apart from so many of his peers, for better or for worse. He’s an assassin. People who are wired like Kobe want to beat everyone at everything. He looks at the Celtics and he sees a team that denied him the chance to be in position for a second three-peat going into the 2010 NBA Finals, something done only by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the salary cap era. Kobe has heard the Jordan comparisons since he came into the league in the late 1990s, and he wants to continue to stamp his own legacy as one of the NBA’s all-time greats. Paul Pierce and his aging crew stand in the way, staring their own places in history. This series has all the makings of a classic, and we can’t wait until Thursday’s Game 1 to see the renewal of one of the greatest rivalries in sports.

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