The last time the Los Angeles Lakers won an NBA championship was a decade ago. Before that, the team hadn’t seen a title win since 2010.
That drought was brought to an end Sunday as the Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, giving Los Angeles its storybook ending.
So, what makes this championship so special, dare you ask? For starters, the Lakers have now equaled their longtime rival, the Boston Celtics, for the most NBA championships titles at 17.
The Lakers were driven to win the championship all season in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January with his daughter, Gianna.
The championship didn’t come easy, and there was a possibility that the NBA season wasn’t going to finish due to the coronavirus pandemic that postponed the season back in March. Thanks to NBA commissioner Adam Silver and his development of the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the season was able to resume.
The Lakers’ path to the championship was anything but easy, having to face talented teams like the Portland Trailblazers, the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference, and finally beating the Miami Heat in the finals.
They also had to win the NBA championship without one of their most talented defenders, Avery Bradley, who opted out before the playoffs began.
Some of the credit for the team’s success must be given to head coach Frank Vogel, who, in his first year as head coach, helped keep the Lakers focused regardless of who they played. Against Western Conference opponents, the Lakers won in five games, and even when they lost, Vogel helped the Lakers make the proper adjustments.
An example of this was when the Lakers played the Rockets and got blown out in Game 1 after the Rockets facilitated the ball in a strategy used by former coach Mike D’Antoni to roll to victory. Vogel shuffled the lineup and went with a small lineup as well to counter Houston’s gameplan.
The Lakers’ defense was among one of the top defenses in the league, having given up the fourth fewest amount of points, 107.6, per game. In comparison, a year ago they were ranked 21st in opponents points per game, having given up 113.5 points and not making the postseason last year.
Most Lakers fans remember from 2014 to 2018 when the Lakers struggled to remain relevant. The Lakers had growing pains to work out with some of their young players, dealing with then-coach Luke Walton, who also had to deal with off-the-court antics of LaVar Ball, the father of then-Laker and second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers finished 57-0 in regular season and postseason games when leading after three quarters. Becoming the first team to accomplish the feat, the statistic resembled the Lakers’ team chemistry and how they often come up big in the most crucial moments of games.
Noise of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks having a better chance of winning the championship didn’t bother them as they kept their focus on winning the championship.
All in all, the season had many ups and downs, but the Lakers reached the top of the mountain, ultimately hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy for Kobe.