After winning the NBA title in 2009, the Lakers looked to become the first team to repeat as champions since the Lakers of the early 2000s with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Like the Shaq/Kobe Lakers, this group had grown to become one of the dominant teams in the league under the amazing leadership of Phil Jackson.
Jackson had turned Kobe Bryant into a better leader, and helped players such as Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom utilize their maximum potential in his renowned triangle offense.
Coming into the 2009-2010 season, Jackson knew that if the Lakers were going to repeat as champions, they would need to get tougher and more physical.
So when Trevor Ariza (a key contributor in the 2009 title run) left Los Angeles to pursue more money, the Lakers found a guy that would certainly be the difference maker en route to their pursuit of a championship: Ron Artest.
The addition of Ron Artest made it apparent to many that the Lakers had gotten even better than last year, and were a strong favorite to win back-to-back championships.
The Lakers made it through a pretty entertaining regular season winning 57 games, an amount that would be enough to grant them the one-seed in the western conference. They experienced a tough break in the first round against the Oklahoma City Thunder, ultimately needing a Game 6 on the road to put them away. In the second round, they swept the Utah Jazz 4-0, resembling the team that most felt would ease their way to an NBA title. And In the conference finals the Lakers would defeat the Phoenix Suns in in six games, setting up a re-match from the 2008 NBA Finals against their arch enemy in the Boston Celtics.
The toughest challenge for the Lakers in their 2010 playoff run would come against the Boston Celtics. The two teams battled through a grueling series that would be decided by a Game 7 at Staples Center. With legacies on the line, and history at stake, this matchup looked to put on one of the greatest games in NBA history, and it was.
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The Lakers and Celtics topped off an epic NBA Finals series with one of the greatest Game 7s in NBA history. Contributions from players such as Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher would prove to be the difference between winning and losing. Regardless of the fact that he struggled for the majority of the game, Kobe Bryant came along in the fourth quarter and helped lead the Lakers to one of the most important victories in the franchise’s history.
Historically the Lakers have struggled against the Celtics in Game 7s during the NBA Finals. Both teams had faced off in the scenario four previous times, with the Celtics emerging as the victor at the end of each series. Needless to say, winning that championship in that fashion meant a lot to Lakers fans from all generations, as a hate for the Celtics is something that all have in common.