After trading away star center Shaquille O’Neal, many doubted whether Kobe Bryant would ever be able to lead the Lakers to a championship as the lead dog. When the Lakers struggled immediately after the trade, those doubters got louder. When the Lakers were dominated by the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, those screams were at a fever pitch.
When the Lakers returned to the Finals in 2009, they were heavily favored against an up-and-coming Orlando Magic team that was not expected to make the NBA Finals. Bryant made sure that the Lakers followed through this time with a dominant Finals performance capped off by a Game 5 in which he was unstoppable.
Bryant totaled 30 points, six rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and two steals in the Lakers 99-86 Game 5 victory on the road to clinch the NBA Championship and Bryant’s first NBA Finals MVP.
The Magic had no answer for Bryant the entire series as he averaged just over 32 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Bryant established himself as one of the greats of all-time with his performance in this series, and showed that the Lakers were on another level than the young Magic.
On this Flashback Friday, we remember Kobe Bryant’s excellent performance in Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals.
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