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Lakers express mild excitement about facing Boston in the NBA Finals

The Lakers remember all too well the streamers pouring down from TD Garden. They remember all too well Paul Pierce's sideline dance. And they remember all too well the bus ride from the arena, when plenty of Boston fans met them with jeers.

Those old wounds from the Lakers' 2008 NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics recently reopened with the Lakers gearing up for Boston on Thursday for Game 1 of the 2010 NBA Finals. Despite the Lakers winning last year's title, Coach Phil Jackson acknowledged the team's shot at repeating also involves "a chance to avenge an uncomfortable feeling that some of these team members went through in Game 6 in Boston," referring to the Lakers' embarrassing 131-92 loss that clinched the Celtics' 17th championship.

However, other than Jackson's suggestion that Boston forward Kevin Garnett played too physical in the Eastern Conference finals against Orlando center Dwight Howard, don't expect the Lakers to engage in trash-talking anytime soon. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant went to his pre-Finals, don't-ask-me-questions, I'm-solely-focused-on-winning-a-championship face and tried convincing the media he could care less that the Lakers are facing Boston in the Finals. "It doesn't matter to me," he said.

With Bryant reflecting that most of the games that were available to him as a child growing up in Italy entailed the Lakers-Boston rivalry, I don't buy it one bit that this series doesn't hold more significance. With Bryant's penchant for remembering negative events to further fuel his insatiable work ethic and motivation, I also don't buy it one bit that he doesn't want to exact revenge on Boston. But there's a pretty easy reason why Bryant made the Lakers-Celtics rivalry sound as exciting and riveting as watching paint dry.

"That's your guys' job; we just do ours," said Bryant, who also insisted he doesn't care that the general public views him as the league's best player: "I'm playing in it. I don't give a damn about it. That's for other people to get excited about. I get excited about winning."

Therein lies how the Lakers approach this upcoming match-up. The Lakers clearly like that they're playing Boston and are harboring ill will toward the Celtics because of the history and the 2008 Finals loss. But by feeding a story line that will already be written, it appears the Lakers are afraid they will become consumed and distracted with exacting revenge rather than just aiming for a championship. Obviously, both approaches technically lead to the same result, but wrongfully channeling that motivation could only result in the Lakers overcompensating.

"There's a lot of hate between teams, crowds and fans and stuff," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. "But we try to be above that, a little bit, and try not to let that affect our minds. Obviously it's motivating, but you still want to win the Finals and championship no matter who it's against. But obviously it will taste better, to be honest, than what we went through in 2008."

I honestly have no problem with that approach, as long as the Lakers display their passion and hatred toward Boston "while we're playing," as Gasol said. I frankly can see the positives and negatives with both approaches, knowing that resorting to trash talk can help rally a team together and sharpen the motivation that's already been there. 

But it can also have detrimental effects if an exchange between certain players makes them more preoccupied with their individual match-up than following the game plan. So instead of Gasol mentioning how he'd love to prove to Garnett he's not soft, Ron Artest boasting he will shut down Paul Pierce again and Bryant proclaiming he'll prove how he's still the best in the game, they'll instead regurgitate boring quotes and dubiously downplay the Boston match-up. That's fine, as long as the Lakers showcase their intensity once the series begins.

-- Mark Medina

twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

 
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The Lakers web site finally has the official Finals desk top wallpaper.

http://bit.ly/cqRLrJ

I just downloaded it and it looks really great.

Why wait for Thursday? I want some A$$ kicking now!

NBA CANCELS LA-BOSTON FINALS

David Stern, NBA Commissioner, announced today that he was cancelling the scheduled NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. David Stern has suffered from a severe case of depression ever since LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals.


Stern refused to leave his bed, but answered questions from a handful of reporters in his room today. When asked why this major event between two teams with a tremendous history was being axed, Stern answered, "What's the point, really?" He sobbed heavily, and said very little that made sense, weeping over and over again, "my Bronny, my Bronny."


David Stern has tried to make LeBron James the centerpiece of his NBA, but has been thwarted by the repeated failure of James' team to make it ti the NBA Finals. Stern referred to James team as "the Cleveland somethings .... Pipers? No that's not it. wait, give me a minute." Faced with the bleak prospect watching of another Finals without his favorite player, Stern apparently just decided to cancel the whole thing.


Laker Coach Phil Jackson declined to comment, for fear of being heavily fined. Boston's GM Danny Ainge declared his team champions and raised a felt banner in honor of the victory.

"n't buy it one bit that he doesn't want to exact revenge on Boston. But there's a pretty easy reason why Bryant made the Lakers-Celtics rivalry sound as exciting and riveting as watching paint dry. "

As a professional painter, watching paint dry can be an exiting thing to watch. When I spray out doors and trim, my goal is to lay down as much paint as possible without having it run in order to get a glassy finish. So watching paint dry is something I like to do and take very seriously.


Clearly there's no mental advantage on either side. The Celtics got the message that the Lakers won't be pushed around last year when KG got in Lamar's face and Lamar shot back, if I read lips correctly, "I can do any mf*&^ing thing I want to do" and they completed the sweep.

It will be physical but it's not about labels or headlines, it's on the court. Kobe wants another cookie and Boston's in the way.

That may be the most important intangible. Kobe's will. I'd take it over the collective will of their starting 5.

Two days and counting until the NBA Clash of the Titans...

In honor of MM's 4th video clip featuring Ron Artest, allow me to re-post my thoughts from May 21, 2010:
_____________________________________________________

The basketball gods smile upon the Los Angeles Lakers MORE THAN ANY other team or franchise in the NBA.

Just two short years ago, as the Celtics were pushing around a less-than-full-strength Lakers team in the Finals, Ron Artest was at every game as a spectator. When the end came, Artest approached Kobe Bryant on his own and made a promise that IF he joined the Lakers, Kobe would never suffer such a loss at the hands of the miserable Green Septics again.

Ron Artest would not join the Purple & Gold last year, when they defeated the Magic for Title #15. He comes to the team THIS season. Just in time to help STRENGTHEN the Lakers with an infusion of physicality, toughness, and grit....as the Lakers gear up for war against the cocky and arrogant Green Punks from Beantown.

As the Lakers look to win their Sweet 16th NBA World Championship, how much sweeter would it be to claim victory, with the added incentive of stone-cold REVENGE for 2008?

Call it Basketball Karma. Poetic Justice. But, could this be simple coincidence? I think not.

P & G R
_____________________________________________________

Following the January 31, 2010 game in Boston, where the Lakers (90) defeated the Septics (89), Kobe Bryant said this about the wrestling match that took place between Artest and Pierce even BEFORE the tip-off:

"They didn't want any part of this crazy (expletive). I'm telling you. I saw it."
_____________________________________________________

Just another reason to despise the Green Slime, from yesterday's O.C. Register: (Jeff Miller)

"The player who, during an Eastern Conference finals game in Orlando, was identified on a fan’s sign as “RuPaul Pierce.”

The biggest diva in the NBA, that’s Pierce. He sells fouls like 7-Eleven sells Slurpees – constantly. He is as dramatic as an Elvis sighting. He is a soap opera in shorts.

The prediction here is it will take Pierce less than one quarter of Game 1 Thursday to be so wronged by a Laker defender that he’ll appear to have been hit by an ice cream truck.

On Monday, an unscientific survey of the Lakers determined that none of them would touch the subject of Pierce being the NBA player most likely to receive an endorsement for diapers.

Luckily, the Celtics played the Heat in the opening round of these playoffs, Miami’s Quentin Richardson speaking where the Lakers wouldn’t, calling Pierce and Garnett “actresses.”

This was after a play that left Pierce, in the words of Richardson, “on the ground crying.” Naturally, Pierce wasn’t hurt, amazingly recovering in an instant and returning to action.

“Sometimes he falls like he’s about to be out for the season,” Richardson said, “and then he gets right up.”

The Lakers weren’t willing to discuss the topic, but you know – just absolutely know – they watch replays of Pierce and laugh at his absurd antics."

P & G R

Wracking my brain to think of anything good to come out of Boston.
All I got so far is baked beans

and James Taylor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSSqnBfgBsQ

...and I don't really like baked beans...

Mark


Why is there this constant need to question Kobe's veracity? I think the problem with most of you guys in the media is you insist on viewing Kobe through the prism of Phil Jackson or Derek Fisher or anybody else you can get a hold of......except Kobe.

Is it within the realm of possibility that Kobe just wants to win......and it doesn't matter who stands in his way? I think Kobe is solely motivated by winning rings...........and at the end of the day it doesn't matter who had to fall in order to attain the goal. Boston, Cleveland, or Orlando......it doesn't matter because at the end of the day Kobe wants to be holding that trophy because "holding the trophy" will be the standard by which all the greats are judged.


Quick......which team did Bill Russell win his 5th ring against? Who did Kareem win his 1st ring against? What team did Tom Brady win his 2nd ring against?

Does anybody even remember? All we remember for the most part is the number of rings that guy finally won............and that is what the legacy rest upon.


I think Kobe is wired so differently from most and that DNA is what makes him great.


You know what, the Lakers could have won the 2008 Finals vs Boston if you only Phil Jackson took that a goddamn time-out in the 4th game when the Lakers began to lose the lead.

Is it Thursday yet?

20FL

"You know what, the Lakers could have won the 2008 Finals vs Boston if you only Phil Jackson took that a goddamn time-out in the 4th game when the Lakers began to lose the lead."

Posted by: ARBEN | June 01, 2010 at 11:54 AM

***

It's tough to win any game when you're up against 5 green jerseys and 3 striped ones, too.

Hakuna matata. Leave your past behind you... and don't forget your wheelchair.

20FL

Take a look at the comparison of celebrations for the Conference Championship trophy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH1aWM5Vrww (Boston)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHVXxy6uTWc (Lakers)

I am so totally proud of our team for staying focused and realizing that this trophy just adds to the rest of the meaningless conference championship trophies. No celebration, no hats, no t-shirts, no nothing because they know that they have not yet accomplished anything that matters. Until the championship trophy is in our hands, we will not celebrate.

This will be a hard-fought and ugly series. Both teams will have their ups and downs. It WILL get rough and dirty out there but I like our chances. GO LAKERS!!!!

Nice hit, EastCoastJessie. The conference trophy is for the first SECOND PLACE team. How many Pacific Division Champions banners are hanging in L.A.? How many Western Conference Champions banners are hanging in L.A.? Makes me think about all those teams back in 2005 that would celebrate beating our team like they just became the 1,000,000th shopper at Vons. Streamers and confetti? C'mon, man...

20FL

MM,

Nit pick.

You wrote:

"I'm-solely-focused-on-winning-a-championship face and tried convincing the media 'he could care less'..."

While this is often misstated here in the blog as well as outside, it should be:
"I couldn't care less", meaning, the person saying it could not care less.

Saying "I could care less" states just that, that you could care less.

Regarding the phrase "I could care less":

"William and Mary Morris, for example, in the Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage, back in 1975, called it “an ignorant debasement of language”.

Furthermore, regarding its use in a sarcastic manner:

"But it is still regarded as slangy, and also has some social class stigma attached. And because it is hard to be sarcastic in writing, it loses its force when put on paper and just ends up looking stupid. In such cases, the older form, while still rather colloquial, at least will communicate your meaning..."

"“Could care less,” whatever meaning you take it to have, does not have that crucial message of zero interest which gives the original saying its sting."

Sorry to nit pick, but having so much time between games causes agitation to set in and this has always been kind of a pet peeve on mine.

I know, I need to get a life what with starving kids in Africa (and Berkley) and war in too many places and people without jobs and so much sickness...
I am not a perfect writer but then, I don't get paid to write anything.

Anyway, I really do appreciate the job that you do here.

"I think Kobe is wired so differently from most and that DNA is what makes him great."

Posted by: pfunk36 | June 01, 2010 at 11:42 AM

***

I wonder if anyone cares how Kobe would "isolate" himself from the team in his early years NOW? That same intensity that people (and teammates) marvel at now was always there, just hidden behind his youth. I'd trade a couple of championships over some post-game card games or charter flight banter any day.

20FL

CORRECTION:

"...marvel at now was always been there..."

20FL

So I tried buying finals tickets using the presale email for Lakers Supporters, and everything is sold out. SECONDS after the page went live. How does every single ticket sell out in seconds. Minutes I get, but seconds??

Hey MM how about asking the Lakers front office about this BS. It sucks how the real fans are priced out of the most important games becaus A-Hole ticket vendors like VIP or Barry's get all the tickets.

Pau Gasol should play for his country. He will be the Legend of spanish basketball. His succes born with the Spanish National Team,not with the Lakers o Grizzlies.

We have today here in Barcelona Kareem, indroducing the game "Lakers vs F.C. Barcelona" that gonna play this summer in Barcelona.

So many good people/Laker fans regularly visit this blog, and make the Lakers the centerpiece of their lives.

The emotional pain they are about to endure this month of June deeply bothers me.
They haven`t even recovered from 2008, and now this!

As much as I love seeing the Celtics win titles, I truly wish it could done without inflicting the psychological trauma that will soon torment Laker Nation.

That`s it...I have nothing else to add.

Art - FL Lakers Fan, in regards to your post, I couldn't care less.

As for Kobe, it's possible that he really doesn't care who the Lakers are playing. Not likely by possible. I guarantee that if the Lakers lose to the Celtics again in embarrassing fashion, he'll care the next time that he faces them in the Finals.

RE: “THE KEYS TO THE SERIES”
*****************************************
MAMBA24... “@LAKERTOM, Do I have to say it?...OUT FREAKIN STANDING SIR!!”
~
Thanks for the kind words, Mamba. Looking forward to our first 2010 NBA Finals Roll Call. 12 down – 4 to go.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
DJ... “LT, Yeah, you analysis is super!
~
Thanks, DJ. After this series, you will no longer be interested in any trades involving Drew. Go, Yankees !!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BD... “LakerTom, Thanks for the post. When you go from your excellent post to the trash that MikeT puts out...you can only say WOW.
~
Thanks for the props, BD. Where you been? Looking for an appearance by our Beast to turn this series around.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ZAIRA... “What a great, great analysis that was LakerTom. Wow ;)” and “First of all, I renew the compliments to Laker Tom's analysis of the match up. Wow... after reading that I won't even attempt at saying something myself, cos it would be just a pale revoicing of your insight ;)” Maybe we’ll see you at the Parade. :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
EDWIN... “Still on the way back to LA as we braved the gridlock along 5. I spoke to LakerTom over the phone not long enough because I was on the wheels as we approached the Richmond bridge. He appeared to be nice and easy going. Good day and will blog again as we get to LA.” Edwin, great to talk to you even for just a few minutes. So nice to have a voice to remember when we blog back and forth. Next time we have to have a drink. Go, Lakers !!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PHRED... “LakerTom- I have been looking forward to reading your thoughts on the great series that is impending, but I’m a little disappointed you chose to spend your time attacking FCM for the imagined slights towards the Lakers. I won’t go to the wall defending the angles he takes on various occasions, but in this case I feel that what he posted is exactly what we needed to hear.” LOL, phred. Can’t help it. Awarding the RCOTD to a troll for a lame weak comment really pissed me off. MM may not be a fan but he needs to show respect. What’s next? 131-92 winning the award. Give me a break. This is a Lakers Blog.
~
~
RE: “THE BEAST AND THE WARRIOR !!!
*****************************************
FATTY... “Laker Tom, I definitely see the Celtics trying to intimidate Gasol. Like you, I was surprised to see him play timid after a few Suns blocks. But if the Celtics want to rough him up and send Pau to the line like Howard, they will pay a price with a near 80% free thrower. They can only do so much to hurt him and not pay a price.”
~
I have to admit that I am really worried that Pau will shrink and disappear. He may be run down from no breaks and too many minutes. I still do not know why Phil did not put Drew in for him against the Suns. Pau almost cost us that game and Kobe definitely ignored him at the end of the game for good reason.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
WALLACE... “LakerTom: Bravo! Two excellent posts on the same day. I was thinking out load the same thing in game 6 when Pau allowed Amare to push him around on offense and either fumble the ball away or threw up his signature's weenie shots! I don't know what was the situation of Bynum at the time but seems it's prudent to put Bynum back when Pau was struggling mightily. It was not his night! Heck it was not his series since he was kinda disappear in the 4th QTR. After all these since since 2008 Finals, I'm still not convince that Pau can play the rough & Tumble brand of basketball which Celtics employ with excellent efficiency.”
~
Is this the same Wallace Wong on the Live Blog? Anyway, thanks for the nice words. Glad I was not the only one screaming for Phil to put Drew back in the game when Pau disappeared. We need Pau to grow some and come out ready to tear KG a new one. Anything else will be a huge disappointment.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
LAKERMIKE... “Hey LakerTom . . . Blog think-sync? I posted this earlier. . . I love it when we are in tune with each other!” We’re on the same wave length, Mike. Loved your “Defense Wins Championship” although I ROFLMAO when some blogger thought you were Mike T. How in the hell could they think that? That’s like calling day night or night day...or comparing a great blogger for a fool of a tool. Keep up the great work, Mike.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PHRED... “don't look, LakerTom) Perkins is the only Celtic who can win his matchup, but only if Andrew is less than healthy. And if Pau is matched up with Perkins, Perk loses that one too. Man, I'm not sure why we even bother to play.” I sure hope you are right about Pau, phred. He is a bigger concern to me right now than even Drew’s knee. I only hope that Drew and Ron can provide the necessary physicality to stop the Boston bullies. I have lost a lot of confidence that Pau can deal with the physicality over the last few weeks.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

So I tried buying finals tickets using the presale email for Lakers Supporters, and everything is sold out. SECONDS after the page went live. How does every single ticket sell out in seconds. Minutes I get, but seconds??

Hey MM how about asking the Lakers front office about this BS. It sucks how the real fans are priced out of the most important games becaus A-Hole ticket vendors like VIP or Barry's get all the tickets.

Posted by: The Infamous El Guapo | June 01, 2010 at 12:19 PM

Guapo, no difference here in Boston. Courtside are going for $8k and nosebleeds for about $400 and everything is sold out. My company has season tickets that get disbursed amongst employees all year except for the finals games because the owner likes watching himself on TV and the only time that's guaranteed is in the finals (BASTARD)

As L.A.'s #1 fan living in Boston, I should be given a media pass by MM and the L.A.Times to serve as the correspondent. Think about all the money they'd save by not having to pay for hotel and meals...just the ticket to the game and you get full game analysis, pictures, video...you name it :-)

Red's Love Child.... I think the LAKER"S are the centerpiece of YOUR life. You just can't get enough us. Why don't you get a LIFE and get on YOUR OWN SEPTIC'S blog., or don't they like you their either? LAKER'S in 6

So many good people/Laker fans regularly visit this blog, and make the Lakers the centerpiece of their lives.

The emotional pain they are about to endure this month of June deeply bothers me.
They haven`t even recovered from 2008, and now this!

As much as I love seeing the Celtics win titles, I truly wish it could done without inflicting the psychological trauma that will soon torment Laker Nation.

That`s it...I have nothing else to add.

Posted by: RED`S LOVE CHILD | June 01, 2010 at 12:23 PM


Oh Red...let's see...the Lakers have one of the youngest teams in the NBA and our core players are (or will be) locked in for several years to come. Do you reallythink we'd be that devastated after being in the Finals 3 years in a row?

The Celtics are 1 back spasm or fake knee injury away from rebuilding once again and having to wait another 20+ years to add to that fraudulent collection of Auerbach championships from the 60's. The Lakers have been a consistently great team that has kept it's fans even through rebuilding periods (most recently "The Kwame/Smush Years"). We know where we'll be next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

This will be a great series. May the best team win but I hardly doubt you will see the devastation you think you'll see.

Am I reading the comments right, "Kobe wants it, therefore he'll will it".... I guess he didn't want it last time, not sure why not. Sorry, but if your game plan is to "get tough" you are going to play into the Celtics hands simply by admitting you are weak before the first tipoff, the Celtics aren't saying they'll have to play with "finesse" or "speed it up" to win. The Celtics already won it, you guys just didn't get the news yet.

pfunk,

I think that the determination which Kobe poses should be a measuring stick when finding new talent. That's why Nash was drafted. Someone took a chance on a guy who really didn't have it all figured out his first year in the NBA. It took Nash experience at the NBA level to figure out how to play with the best basketball players in the world. If I were drafting a player in the 2010 draft I would get a guy who had some solid numbers but who also has that killer DNA, a guy like Grevis Vasquez. I believe that his projected 40th pick in the draft by some expert analysts is ridiculous. In my opinion he should move up a few dozen slots from his projected pick. If I'm a GM I pick that guy in the early teens of the draft based on how composed he gets at the end of very important games. Maryland was a team that played with a sense of "magic" in the NCAA tournament and always seemed to make those late surges to pull out victories. That determination that he played with would make him succeed playing around other professionals who could hit an open shot. That guy hit a ton of clutch shots this year and I think that his makeup will make him continue that in his 2nd year in the NBA. All he needs is some team to trust him through his rookie mistakes in the first year. He's gonna take baby steps but he'll adapt by his 2nd year in the NBA. (We all remember Kobe's rookie year airballs). Rookies in the NBA aren't that great in their fist year in the NBA because they need to fail and see their limitations before they can go on to succeed. Whoever takes a chance on this 6'6 point guard and gives him minutes is going to reap real dividends in 2 years (after his mistakes). Mark my words.
LAKERS GM MUST GET THIS GUY OR POSITION TROUGH TRADE OR SING AND TRADES TO GET THIS GUY. HE'S THE MOST UNDERRATED POINT GUARD IN THIS YEAR'S DRAFT!!

CHARACTER AND JUST ENOUGH ATHLETIC ABILITY SHOULD WEIGH MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN DRAFTING PLAYERS, BUT CHARACTER IS MOST IMPORTANT THING BECAUSE SOMEONE WITH STRONG CHARACTER WILL FIGHT THROUGH LIMITATIONS AND FIND A WAY TO ADAPT THROUGH SHEAR WILL POWER. JUST LOOK AT DEREK FISHER A TRUE WINNER.

Re: NBA CANCELS LA-BOSTON FINALS

Mr. Daniels, that's friggin HILARIOUS! I loves me my Celtics but that Ainge bit in the end was the funniest part. Somebody give this guy a job.

Kobe said that after the Lakers lost game six of the '08 NBA Finals in Boston by 39 points, he was alone in the shower, just fuming. He heard somebody walk in and assumed it was one of his teammates, or maybe a staff member. Instead, he looked up, and it was Ron Artest (to this day, Kobe has no idea how Artest got into the locker room).

"I want to come help you," Artest said. "If I can, I'm going to find a way to come to LA and give you the help you need to win a title."

THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. IT'S 2010, SAME OPPONENT, SAME ARENA, DIFFERENT RESULT!!!

if any of us are going to the game, make sure to torment paula pierce with "wheelchair" chants.
go lakers....unleash hell!

The Lakers have one of the youngest teams in the NBA? Four of the five starters are over 30. So is the first guy off the bench. The Lakers' window might be open just a tad wider than the Celtics but it isn't a huge difference.

Kobe was in the shower and Artest walked in and said "I want to come help you".
That might be the scariest thing I've ever read.

Why? are there so many demonic worshipers on the Lakers blog, the Hated C's are pure EVIL, go back to you're toilet in Beantown.

Who is this Black Momma that the Lakers have?

EastCoastJessie: "I am so totally proud of our team for staying focused and realizing that this trophy just adds to the rest of the meaningless conference championship trophies. No celebration, no hats, no t-shirts, no nothing because they know that they have not yet accomplished anything that matters. Until the championship trophy is in our hands, we will not celebrate."

Here! Here! Great Observation!

The Cherry On Top was that they Left the Trophy for Someone Else to Pickup later. The TNT Post-Game Show Cut to a Shot of the Western Conference Championship Trophy sitting in a deserted room.

LMAO when Paula "Inglehood" Pierce hoisted the Eastern Conference Championship Trophy!!!

GO LAKERS!!! ONE, TWO, THREE, DOMINATE!!!


I can totally understand why the Lakers might not think that the Western Conference championship is anything to brag about. At best, Phoenix would be
the fourth best team in the East.


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