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Doc Rivers' suggestion that Kendrick Perkins' injury resulted in Lakers' 2010 NBA Finals win proves unfounded

Doc Rivers

Let the revisionist history begin.

The Lakers didn't win the 2010 NBA Championship because of Ron Artest's Game 7 heroics. They didn't win the 2010 title after becoming much tougher than in the 2008 campaign. And they didn't win after Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Artest and Sasha Vujacic made key shots late in the game. No, the Lakers are back-to-back champions simply because Boston center Kendrick Perkins tore the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee, causing him to miss the final three quarters of Game 6 and all of  Game 7. Or so that's what Celtics Coach Doc Rivers would like you to think.

"They still have not beaten our starting five," Rivers recently told ESPN 980's John Thompson, as provided by Sports Radio Interviews. "Our starting five against the Lakers starting five has a ring. Tell him [a Lakers fan] don't forget that. We will be back strong and Perk will be there next year if there's a Game 7."

I'm not the only one who's scratching his head and wondering if I saw the same game Doc saw. Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore wrote, "Doc. If you're going to say something stupid, did it also have to be so inflammatory and grotesquely ill informed? One needn't be a Laker fan to be enraged by this. One need only possess a respect for historical accuracy and a memory that stretches back three whole years." Ball Don't Lie's Trey Kerby mused, "That's a very specific set of circumstances, but it's valid. That's a good team and the Lakers haven't beat them. But the thing is, that's not necessarily going to be the team that faces the Lakers, and even when they don't, the games still count. On the other hand, if Boston can petition the league to only count games in which the expected Celtics starting five takes the court, we might be looking at the first undefeated team in NBA history. It might only be for six games, but still."

Doc Rivers 2

Unfortunately for the Celtics, games aren't played under perfect scenarios. Every team, particularly ones that play further into the postseason, have to deal with less-than-ideal circumstances regarding injury, fatigue, etc.  That's essentially what sports are, playing the best you can with the cards you're dealt. In no way am I downplaying Perkins' absence, but for Rivers to suggest he was the primary reason the Lakers won the title, as former NBA great Julius Erving also suggested to me at the ESPY's, proves absurd for various reasons.

Let's first deal with the logic that the Celtics still have not defended their title from 2008. That title defense stopped once Boston was eliminated in the 2009 East semifinals by Orlando. And the Celtics won in 2008 against the Lakers, which featured an absent Andrew Bynum and a limited Trevor Ariza. Leading up to the 2010 Finals, many members of the media, including myself, asked various Lakers how much different the 2008 campaign would have gone had they been fully healthy. With not wanting to appear as if they were downgrading Bynum's and Ariza's potential contributions, the Lakers made it clear they would've helped, but in the end, the players on the floor didn't execute properly. Likewise, Boston failed to do the same thing in Game 7, allowing the Lakers to dominate the offensive glass, 23-8, and holding the Celtics' perimeter players in Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to 14 of 42 shooting (33%).

So much for Rivers' pregame contention that the Celtics would respond to Perkins' injury with a rallying cry. But he was right about one thing before the game: "The game is going to dictate everything."

"We're here, and we'll be ready," he said before the game. "It is a little emotional losing Perk. He's so important to our team. But he's still in the locker room, he just will not be in uniform. And I think our guys in some ways, they want to do it for him. Listen, the game is going to dictate everything, and I don't know, but as far as our emotions, I think we're pretty much in check."

After the game, when he was asked how much Perkins' absence affected the Celtics, Rivers brought up "the starting lineup hasn't lost" argument while making it clear it didn't make or break the team.

"I can't say," Rivers said after Boston's Game 7 loss. "I know, and I told our guys this, the starting lineup still hasn't lost. It was a shame we didn't have that starting lineup tonight. But I told them, you're still yet to have a true chance to defend your title because Perk wasn't there. But listen, give the Lakers credit. They were terrific."

That much was true. Even with Bryant having an uncharacteristically poor Game 7, the Lakers came through. Despite Lamar Odom's NBA Finals disappearing act, the Lakers came through. And despite Bynum's significant limitations because of the torn cartilage in his right knee, the Lakers came through. The Lakers, frankly, went through similar adversities as did the Celtics and it revealed two things. The Lakers made adjustments, while the Celtics just provided excuses.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Celtics Coach Doc Rivers recently suggested that the Lakers wouldn't have won the 2010 NBA Finals if Boston center Kendrick Perkins hadn't gotten injured. Credit: Elsa / Getty Images.

Photo: Celtics Coach Doc Rivers receives a Gatorade bath from Paul Pierce moments before winning the 2008 Finals, when the Lakers were missing Andrew Bynum. Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (211)

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Oh my God. That means that the Celtics won't win a single game until Perkins gets back in January!!!!!!

UH, DOC! YOUR CELTICS STILL HAVEN'T BEATEN THE LAKERS STARTERS IN THREE YEARS EITHER (REMEMBER BYNUM WAS OUT HURT WHEN YOU "WON" YOUR LITTLE CHAMPIONSHIP)! THE LAKERS WOULD BE ON A 4-PEAT HAD BYNUM BEEN HEALTHY! YEAH, I KNOW THE BIG BLOWOUT GAME, REMEMBER THE PREVIOUS 5 GAMES THAT YEAR WERE CLOSE AND ANDREW WOULD HAVE MADE A LITTLE BIT OF A DIFFERENCE IN ANY OF THOSE 5! JUST GET PAST CHICAGO, ORLANDO AND MIAMI AND WE'LL SEE WHO'S BETTER! OH, ENJOY SHAQ'S LAZY FAT A-- TOO!

i have been a laker fan since the wilt and jerry west and the rest i was there for the good and the bad no one player can win you a ring it took all of the lakers to do this as far as doc rivers saying what he said its just that he hates to lose to the lakers.
now and when he played didnt like it then either so as far as the lakers who has the back to back wins boston or LA
CASE CLOSE DOC get ready for 2010 2011 your going to need it with 38 year old center and rest of your dirty players and cry babies you have

Doc Rivers is so stupid.
First he suggests that their starting 5 beat us. Well Bynum was out in 2008 so they havn't beat our starting 5.
Second, if bynum was healthy, and kobe didnt have a broken finger, then it wouldn't have mattered if they had 6 people playing us, with perkins and maybe shaq. we still would have beat them.

Doc Rivers is just trying to motivate his team now. So stupid.

hey doc,

what about games 1, 3, & 5. oh thats right they obvously don't count either!!! Gee for a doc. you ain't so smart. go back to school, or maybe you just some memory shots.

LAKERS ARE GOLDEN FOREVER!!! WHAT'S THAT,

OH, BOSTON SUCKS!!!

Boston sux... always remember that..what about all the other injuries the lakers had.. bynum, kobe. Doc is just jealous and F#@! Boston. Lakers for Life...does anyone else smell a three peat. Miami is overrated ...Im just a lil worried about that beast they call durant.. OKlahoma has a nice young core. watch out for them.. I would bet Durant wins one before that overrated prick james...F$#@ Boston. F$#@ Rivers..he is just jealous that the better team won. "they havent beat our starting five. BS. Everybody gets injured its part of the game.. Get over it rivers...u sux all day..F$#@ off and motivate ur crappy team in a diff. way cuz 08 is the last championship u guys r gonna get .. LAKERS FOR LIFE

always a laker fan. but celtics were up 13 that had nothing to do with perkins being out they couldn't hang on. it's not like they were down 13.

if doc plays that game then lakers should had the 3 peat already ariza wasn't healthy 2008 and bynum missed entire playoffs. should be going for 4 peat. ha ha ha

last year i was wrong but this year celtics aren't going to finals with you know how kazaam o'neal

sorry i spelled like kazzam shazzam on my last post.

i wasn't in a wheelchair i would super-kick doc rivers. and kazaam

 
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