Lakers sense different vibe at championship parade
Kobe Bryant stood inside Staples Center with a beaming style. Though his sunglasses partly masked his giddiness, it was obvious he had a more pleasant demeanor than the stoic persona he displayed throughout the playoffs. He joked about how his left hand is jealous because he's put his five championship rings on his right hand. He broke down the World Cup, a light-hearted subject he refused to touch during the Lakers' championship run. And he beamed when I asked him what the past few days of rest have been like for his body after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics for the 2010 NBA championship.
"They've been fantastic," Bryant said Monday following the Lakers' parade. "I had a chance to relax and enjoy these old bones."
Yet, the Lakers' players sensed a much different vibe at this year's championship parade because the title came at the expense of the Celtics. Bryant could recall hearing countless "Thank yous" for the Lakers' avenging the 2008 Finals loss and closing Boston's Finals dominance of L.A. to 9-3. "It was more emotion," Bryant said, though he added the reason went beyond the Lakers' title. "One girl almost fainted because she saw The Machine," Bryant said, referring to Sasha Vujacic.
The vibe was also different because Coach Phil Jackson wasn't in attendance because of medical appointments. Forward Pau Gasol said he wished "he could've been here because this is a reward for all the success we've had this year." He and Bryant believe Jackson's health will be the main determining factor on whether he'll return next season.
"I think it's just a medical thing," Bryant said. "If he feels like he's healthy enough to go, he'll be here. I don't think it's a matter of him feeling like he doesn't want to do it again or he lacks motivation to do it. The motivation is there. The love is there. If medically he's good, he'll be ready to go."
Even though Lamar Odom experienced the championship parade last year, the distinguishing quality of this one went beyond the fact the Lakers had beaten Boston. His wife, Khloe Kardashian, was in attendance, leading one reporter to joke the Kardashian family has been good luck since Khloe's sister, Kim, was dating Reggie Bush at the time Bush's team, the New Orleans Saints, won the Super Bowl earlier this year. But Odom joked, "I had one [championship] before."
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