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Top 5 memorable Laker stories of 2010

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1. Lakers win 2010 NBA championship. Well, duh. The Lakers' 16th NBA championship is the reason the organization, team and fans had an enjoyable offseason. And it made the Lakers the yardstick against which everyone else in the league has measured their free-agency moves and early regular-season progress. But it's not just the Lakers' championship win that made for a No. 1 storyline. It was all the subplots that surrounded Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.

The Lakers closed in on their rivalry with the Celtics, avenging their 2008 Finals loss to Boston, closing the gap behind Boston's 17 titles and its Finals series lead to 9-3. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant won his fifth championship ring by relying on his teammates during a poor shooting performance. Lakers forward Ron Artest provided a heroic Game 7 performance, followed by a memorable postgame interview where he thanked his psychiatrist and a postgame press conference where he expressed excitement over a Wheaties championship box, among other things. Lakers forward Pau Gasol capped off a series that helped him to shed that "soft" label, which had been exacerbated by the Lakers' 2008 Finals loss to the Celtics. Lakers guard Derek Fisher added another chapter to his leadership (reining in Bryant, calming down the team) and provided some particularly clutch shots (hitting a critical three-pointer to tie the game at 66-66 with 6:12 remaining; the Lakers never trailed after that point). Sasha Vujacic proved that even a player with a limited role can be instrumental in securing a title as he hit two free throws that gave the Lakers an 83-79 lead with 11.7 seconds remaining. And, of course, the title gave Jackson his 11th championship ring, with the possibility of three-peating for a fourth time in his career proving rather enticing as he weighed whether to return to coach at least for one more season.

2. Ron Artest raffles off his championship ring for mental-health charities. Artest's decision seemed puzzling at first, considering how much winning his first title meant to Artest after a sometimes difficult 11-year career. But with his popularity reaching an all-time high following his Game 7 performance, Artest figured he'd use that buzz to support a cause close to his heart. Artest raised $651,006 for mental-health charities by raffling off his ring Christmas Day. The winner was Raymond Mikhael, a Hawthorne resident and married father of four children.

In pushing for his cause, Artest was been given the keys to the city of Las Vegas, met with former President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and appeared at Eastmont Intermediate School in Montebello, where he spoke to students about the mental-health issues he had dealt with since age 13. He donated a $50,000 check to Pacific Clinics. And he filmed a public-service announcement on behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

3. The Lakers have a successful offseason. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak took a bold step in ensuring a well-stocked roster after a second consecutive title. Meanwhile, Miami made big moves in assembling the so-called super team, bringing in LeBron James and Chris Bosh and securing Dwyane Wade.

Aside from retaining Jackson, Fisher and Shannon Brown, the Lakers also picked up Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff and drafted essential steals in Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. And the Lakers' losses were minimal, with backup guard Jordan Farmar going to New Jersey, Josh Powell signing with Atlanta, D.J. Mbenga joining New Orleans and Adam Morrison still looking for a team.

Offseason acquisitions, aside from Ratliff, who's had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee,  have paid off. Blake showed an immediate understanding of the triangle. Barnes provided hustle plays and ate some of Artest's minutes. Brown's shooting numbers improved. Even if his regular-season performances have been inconsistent, Fisher's clout in the locker room can't be underestimated. And Jackson's decision to stay for another season helps ensure continuity.

4. Many Hall of Fame honors and other accolades for several Lakers. A Lakers championship will always serve as the top story. But in a year when the Lakers secured their 16th title, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductions provided another reminder of who set the foundation for the Lakers' success.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss became the third Laker to enter the Hall of Fame as a contributor, joining broadcaster Chick Hearn and Pete Newell. Buss bought the Lakers in 1979 and ushered in the showtime era, securing 10 NBA championships and providing one of L.A.'s main attractions. It also was fitting that two other Lakers who helped to define the organization were inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Jerry West was inducted for his involvement with the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, and Magic Johnson was inducted for his play with the 1992 U.S. Dream Team.

West captured several other honors, being inducted alongside key triangle architect and former Jackson assistant Tex Winter into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. To top it off, the Lakers  announced they would unveil a statue of West as a player during NBA All-Star weekend at Staples Center Feb. 18-20.

5. Kobe Bryant surpasses West as Lakers' all-time scoring leader. Bryant eclipsed West's mark of 25,192 career points with the Lakers on Feb. 1 against the Memphis, making Bryant the team's all-time leading scorer. In 1996, Bryant as a 17-year-old kid out of Lower Merion High School (Pennsylvania) impressed West during a pre-draft workout. West, then the Lakers' general manager, traded Vlade Divac on July 11, 1996, to the Hornets for the rights to acquire Bryant, the team's 13th pick.

Bryant's still pursuing scoring records, entering Sunday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies with 26,626 career points, meaning he should surpass on Dominique Wilkins (26,668) and Oscar Robertson (26,710) fairly soon.

-- Mark Medina

twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Kobe Bryant stands on the scorers' table at Staples Center after the Lakers defeated the Celtics to win the NBA championship on June 17, 2010 at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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For 2011...5 Most Memorable Stories...

1. justanothermambafan...releases her profile...

2. Laker string 12 game winning streak...

3. Kobe, Pau, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum all make the All Star Team...

4. Lamar Odom wins 6th Man of the Year...

5. Lakers win 3 Peat, Kobe wins 3rd consecutive FMVP...PJ gets his 12th...

Lew:

6. The trolls suddenly have gestaltian epiphanies, realizing they've been so wrong they are embarrassed by their wrongness, bow down before the Lakers' greatness, and begin doing charity work in Boston, helping the poor downtrodden Celtic fans to overcome their fannish disabilities.

7. DFish comes out of the closet to reveal he is in fact Jordan Farmar. He takes to wearing all-body skin bronzer and shaving his head, constantly talking about "the good of the team" and giving motivational speeches to the homeless in New Jersey.

8. Sonny Belfast wins the Thai lottery and buys the Kings, moving them to Bangkok where they continue their losing ways, but at least Cousins has healthier food to eat.

Lews- If you think JUSTA going to relieve her profile for the Lakerholics to go BANANAS, not gonna HAPPEN. She's to SMART for that, the mystery is to COMPELLING the SUSPENCE oooh man, the SUSPENCE.

Baron Davis should really shave his beard. That thing is awful.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

This post reminds us how lucky we are to be Lakers fans.


Corner J - I have an alternate view of why Sasha is gone. I think it is because he took too many lousy shots. In particular the ones where he was driving toward the baseline when he went up and kept drifting sideways while he shot. It was like a shooting gallery, shooting at a moving target. With his feet set he was always a good shooter. And I loved his defense and attitude and suspect Phils did too. He always has liked a little unpredictability in players, from Rodman to Kobe to Barnes.


Sasha just played a faster than his brain worked and took too many bad shots, and finally played himself out of the rotation. I suspect Phil was sorry to see him go. In New Jersey, with no title at stake, he will get a second chance at major minues. I'll be rooting for him.

@TOM DANIELS… Outstanding post about Kobe and whether he is selfish or not. Basketball history is filled with great players who were not great teammates or who only cared about being the hero. Kobe’s competitiveness combines desires to be the greatest player ever and to win as a team.

As anyone could guess, I’ve also really been enjoying watching Drew play, especially the last two games in which he started. I also came away with the same impression as you about how big Drew really is. It looks as if he really hit the weights while he was down with his knee. He is a Beast.

Finally, congratulations on the Friedman for your Derek Fisher post. I hope Fish can turn it around and your prediction of a great playoffs come true. One way or another, the reality is that this should be Derek’s last year as the Lakers starting point guard and Steve Blake may not be the answer.
……………………………………………………………….
@LAKERHOLIC… Excellent points on why the Spurs are our greatest challenger in the West. You could also add the fact that they have won championships and that they have a guy in George Hill who can match up well guarding Kobe. something they haven’t had since Bruce Bowen.
……………………………………………………………….
@KOBEMVP888… I agree with you that Blake will be fine as our back up point guard. The problem in my opinion is that Blake has not shown me enough to feel confident in moving him to the starting lineup and Fish’s deteriorating play may eventually force Phil to replace Fish in the starting lineup.

I love Derek Fisher and hope he turns things around. Having said that, I am seriously starting to worry that Derek may not turn it around. In that case, what do we do for a point guard? Frankly, I think we need a better option at starting point guard for the Lakers than Steve Blake.
……………………………………………………………….
@CORNERJ… I agree with you about Drew’s importance to the team. The Pau Gasol as starting center bandwagon has fallen into the same black hole as the Shannon Brown as starting point guard bandwagon. The difference defensively when Drew is proof positive who is our best center.
……………………………………………………………….
@LEWSTERS… Loved your list of 2011 most memorable stories. It’s a dream wish list but one that could easily come true. That’s what’s great about being a Lakerholic. Your greatest dreams can come true and you know it because it has happened so many times before. Lakers magic and mystique.
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TOM

LT

I must be blind because I don't see that fall off in Fisher's game that many others seem to see. He's been like this in the regular season for three seasons now. It dumbfounds me that people don't see the positives in what he still brings to the team. I'm not blind to what you are saying and I know that you're an old point guard yourself and don't buy that the triangle doesn't require a great point guard (it never has). He's not some weak link on this team that will cause the entire chain to break. And if he does hit that wall and it becomes apparent to Phil Jackson, I am quite comfortable with Steve Blake coming in to assume Derek's role on the team.

For what it's worth, Fish's numbers are about where they were last season, if that is any comfort. There's no drop off.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/f/fishede01.html

@Jon K...

Baron's beard notwithstanding, your Clips are a pretty talented group. I'm watching them take it to Atlanta right now. With the talent they have assembled, along with an aggressive young coach in Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers are a team on the come. It'll be hard for even Donald Sterling to mess things up.

bronxlakerfan speaks well of the Clippers (despite Sterling); suddenly, there is a shift in the Kuiper Belt, and a rogue comet changes orbit, heading straight for Earth, eventually to crash in a freak accident with one or all of the Clipper players... and again, the Clips fail.

With the Lakers down 13 in the 3rd quarter of Game 7, worst case scenarios were flashing through my head. The Lakers as a team and Kobe in particular seemed to want victory badly, but just couldn't get any traction in that game. But, as we all know, their championship mettle came to the front and they were able to repeat as NBA champions, thanks to a great team effort. I awoke from the nightmare of the Green Slime celebrating a title on the Lakers' court to the blissful reality of a Laker back ot back.

Truly a memorable season, chock full of drama and memories.

we need this win just for the sake of winning games if not important games.

Another team with good young talent will be coming to play the Lakers tonight. The Grizzlies are not to be taken lightly as the Lakers found out on November 30th, when they lost by 2 down in Mamphis.

I watched parts of the Grizzlies' game last night against the Jazz. They gave a strong effort and wound up losing by 6, despite not having Rudy Gay due to his stomach virus.

Zach Randolph did work against the Jazz with 27 and 16. He's third in the league in rebounding at 12.7 and always seems to play well against the Lakers.

Lakers also need to be conscious of Mike Conley. He played extremely well in the Memphis victory against the Lakers with 28 points and was the catalyst in that win. Rudy Gay had 30 pts. vs The Show on Nov. 2nd when the Lakers handled the Griz easily at Staples.

Memphis' bench was not much of a factor last night, with only 6 points total. But if Gay is able to play, Sam Young returns to the bench where he is a capable backup.

All in all, if the Lakers don't fall victim to the Sunday doldrums we so often see from them, they should be fine. The Show has 10 home games in January and only 5 roadies. Now would be a good time to snap to and start showing some consistency.

GO LAKERS!!!
17 in '11!!!

Am I the only one who noticed?

The three pointer by fisher tied the score at 64-64 I believe..not 66-66.

Minor detail :D

@Jon K...

Baron's beard notwithstanding, your Clips are a pretty talented group. I'm watching them take it to Atlanta right now. With the talent they have assembled, along with an aggressive young coach in Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers are a team on the come. It'll be hard for even Donald Sterling to mess things up.

Posted by: bronxlakerfan | January 02, 2011 at 02:16 PM
-
They lost...
VDN is not a good coach...
The Clips being the Clips.

@63 Footer....

Clips still don't know how to close games. They found a way to lose to Atlanta, despite 31 & 15 from Blake Griffin. That boy is a stud! And you are right, they do seem cursed.

bronxlakerfan - I'm not a Clips fan because, well... I'm a Lakers fan (whoo-hooo)! But Sterling is terrible, and it goes from the top down. It's like he doesn't even LIKE basketball and only owns the Clips for tax purposes or something. But yeah, Blake's a stud. And LO was/is a stud. And (fill in the blank for a Clips player) is a stud... but they still lose. Cursed.

I think we should have a Baron Davis/Pau Gasol beard-out. The money raised by the shaving of the beards will go to charity.

Hey Lakerholics,

Yes, bronxlakerfan, Rudy Gay is expected to play tonight. I just read where Gay told a Memphis reporter that he's definitely playing against the Lakers.

I agree with a lot of your assessments on the Griz. They're a capable young team that gets after it, but they lack the depth to be a Western Conference playoff team. They'd probably be an Eastern Conference playoff team if they had two-thirds of their games against that competition. But in the West, they have a solid starting unit but a bench that gets abused most nights by WC teams with depth.

Enjoy the game and live chat later with MM.

Take care

@63 Footer...

I'm not a Clip fan, either. The only reason I even watch them is Blake Griffin. To me, he has the potential to be an all-time great. Time, and the Sterling effect, will tell.

@Magic Phil....

I never said VDN was a good coach, I said he was an aggressive one. Sometimes the two go hand in hand. I Vinny's case, I think they do. At any rate, the Clips are no day at the beach for any team. They have too much talent.

A little love goes a long way. Sasha is averaging 11.3 points per game in 25 minutes per game. He is rebounding well and leads the team in steals per game. Avery Johnson being a great guard is coaching Sasha well. Coach Jackson never gave Sasha meaningful minutes. Blake and Brown are not producing the numbers that Sasha is producing with the Nets.

Did we trade the wrong guard? I realize it was a salary dump and a break for Sasha, but the Lakers will come out on the short end in the end.


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