Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 5:43 AM
It seemed more a matter of luck than skill when the Los Angeles Lakers eked out home-court victories over the Orlando Magic in the first two games of this year’s NBA Finals. This is why so many basketball commentators thought that the Lakers were in for a seven-game struggle.
Meanwhile, I was more interested in seeing if Kobe Bryant would finally win his first Shaq-less championship or demonstrate yet again that he can’t win without Shaquille O’Neal.
As it turned out, the Lakers put on a magical display during the next three games, which were played on Orlando’s home court, and ended the Magic’s fairytale season on Sunday by winning this championship series 4-1.
I suspect, however, that Kobe’s championship feeling pales in comparison to the vindication he must be feeling today. For here, in part, is what I wrote after he failed to get this monkey off his back in last year’s NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics:
Frankly, what I found most interesting about this year’s NBA finals is the prospect of Kobe finally leading the Lakers to a championship without the purportedly indispensable assistance of Shaquille O’Neal.
Recall that the Lakers traded Shaq to the Miami Heat in 2004 to indulge Kobe’s petulant and narcissistic personality. And since then all NBA fans have wondered which of these two franchise players would be the first to lead his team to a championship without the other.
Therefore, Kobe must have resented watching Shaq lead the Heat to an NBA championship in 2006.
[Celtics rout Lakers to win 2008 NBA Championship, TIJ, June 18, 2008]
And to add insult to his resentment, here’s how Shaq rubbed this loss to the Celtics in Kobe’s face:
Last week Kobe couldn’t do it without me…
Kobe tell me how my ass taste
I’m a horse, Kobe ratted me out, that’s why I getting a divorce
Kobe, can’t do it without me…
[Shaq raps like a man scorned...disses Kobe, TIJ, June 26, 2008]
Juvenile … to be sure! But Shaq’s rap song – composed of these and even cruder lyrics – was reportedly a hit in the Hip-hop community and night clubs all over America. And, no doubt, this only compounded Kobe’s humiliation….
Therefore, I heartily congratulate Kobe, and have no difficulty eating a little crow for doubting that he could pull it off.
More to the point, I’m sure that my crow will taste a lot better than the load Shaq now has to eat. Though, to his credit, Shaq seems prepared to eat it like a man:
Congratualtions kobe, u deserve it. You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it. And I know what yur sayin rt now… ‘Shaq how my ass taste.’ (Sic)
(A twittering Shaquille O’Neal)
NOTE: In winning his 10th championship as a head coach, the Lakers’ Phil Jackson surpassed legendary Red Auerbach, ironically of the Celtics, as the most successful coach in NBA history.
Shaq raps like a man scorned…