Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

June 17, 2008
The Lakers in the Finals: Where Humiliation Happens

Nothing could properly describe what the Celtics just did to the Lakers, tonight and most of the very eventful series.

Throttle. Abuse. Tattoo. Dominate. Flog. Donaghy.

Beaten L.A. Beaten L.A.

The ultimate perspective is that it will be remembered as one of the greatest moments in the history of a franchise that has had more great moments than any other in the NBA. The Celtics won the championship, won it at home after the Patriots and Red Sox did not, denied Phil Jackson the chance to pass their own Red Auerbach for most coaching titles, and bloodied their long-time rival so bad that the Lakers on the spot went from a season of great gains to facing real questions about the personality of a roster turned heartless when it mattered most.

The Lakers got embarrassed by the colossal Game 4 collapse.

The Lakers got embarrassed by the Game 6, series-ending, 39-point loss.

Losing a competitive series would have been disappointing, but at least understandable. Boston had the best record in the regular season by seven games (over Detroit), even if it appeared vulnerable in wobbly showings early in the playoffs, the homecourt advantage in a postseason where that has meant so much, and the best defense. And defense wins titles.

But this was being shockingly gutless for so many long stretches of the six games. Facing elimination, and knowing extending the series to Thursday would have meant an additional burden for the Celtics playing with starters Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins coming off injuries, the Lakers showed the urgency of a March game at the end of a lengthy Eastern swing.

One of those ABC locker-room locker room cameras caught Jackson imploring his team at halftime, "We're just giving it away." Then, sounding more forceful: "Don't give it away."

Coach-turned-analyst Jeff Van Gundy noted the rarity of Jackson being captured in such a striking tone, and Van Gundy was right. At least Jackson showed some passion.

The Celtics defense constricted and the Lakers, they of the great passing and deep bench, went limp. It was a scene that would have been unimaginable any time in the previous five-plus months, since the trade that delivered Pau Gasol and kept L.A. in the championship hunt after Andrew Bynum was lost to a knee injury. It was also the moment these Lakers will long be remembered for unless they dig down and find a response in the seasons ahead.

Other observations as the party no doubt rages on in Boston:

*Joke away about the disparity between the muscle-bound West and the weak East. But three of the last five champions are from the consolation bracket: the Pistons (2004), the Heat (2006) and the Celtics. The Spurs have owned the odd years since '03.

*What hair style does one create for a championship parade? Scot Pollard just won a ring.

*The emotions of the Celtics were intense and made the title more meaningful - Paul Pierce in accomplishment and relief after living through the lottery years, Kevin Garnett alternating between screaming in joy and struggling for words after living through the Minnesota years and driving the Boston turnaround after the blockbuster trade last summer, coach Doc Rivers choking up as he talked about spending the final seconds of the game thinking about his father who passed during the season.

*Garnett and Bill Russell hugging on the court as part of the victory celebration will be shown forever. "I hope we made you proud," KG told him during the embrace. Safe to assume they did.



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