This one was for all the marbles. And in the end, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers ended up with the marbles aka the rings. In the pivotal Game 7, the Los Angeles Lakers showed grit and heart and willed themselves to a victory that looked like it was slowing slipping away from them early in the second half. This one was tough. But they did it.
The heart of a champion is measured by the ability to win when winning seems nearly impossible. And going into this game both teams had shown the heart of champions. The Boston Celtics had overcome an average regular season to explode into the playoffs as the #4 seed out of the East. They dismantled the top two seeds in the East to get to their second Finals appearance in three years. And even though many counted them out because of age, they mades this series a SERIES. The Los Angeles Lakers, coming off a 2009 NBA Championship, also overcame a fairly mediocre(for the #1 team in the West) to continuously prove something with each playoff series. They had something to prove versus the last team to knock them out.
However throughout most of Game 7, it was the Boston Celtics who seemed more determined to take this game. Even without center Kendrick Perkins whom they lost in the early minutes of game 6, the Celtics played a suffocating defense that keyed in on Kobe who couldn’t land shots. The Lakers shot a miserable 32.5% from the field, but the Lakers were winning the battle on the boards, and that kept them in the game. And when the second half began rolling and they got down by as much as 13 points, those offensive and defensive rebounds were what kept them hanging around. Those pesky rebounds helped them to get back in the game and then eventually go up. And once they gained the lead, they refused to relinquish it. They just wanted it more in the end stretch. And they got it.
Player of the game: Though Kobe Bryant won Finals MVP, Ron Artest was the player of game 7. His persistence and aggressive play on both ends of the floor allowed the Lakers to stay within striking distance, and then finally strike when it was most necessary. Ron Artest came through on the promise he made Kobe last year after the Finals. Ron had told Kobe if Kobe would help him get on the team, Ron would get him another championship. And when Kobe’s shot couldn’t seem to find the bottom of the basket, Ron was the one keeping some sort of offense going. He stepped up when they needed him. He was ready.