Congratulations are obviously in order for the Boston Celtics, who achieved the near-impossible: going from 24 wins last season to NBA champions this year with a disgustingly dominant performance that made Laker fans sick at the end of the first half (and should have made anyone interested in competitive basketball even more ill than that.)
Given the way he and his team played for the majority of this series, Kobe Bryant should be cussing himself out during the off-season, but his teammates should be doing the same without prodding from their alpha. When a four-point deficit turns into 23 at the half and ends in a 39-point assault, it means so much more than being outclassed by a better team; it means a team failed to show up or hold any pride.
Bryant was a measly 7-for-22; Lamar Odom a lame 2-of-8, and Pau Gasol was once again putting up weak shots instead of going up the the rim. This team may need much more work than simply adding Andrew Bynum to get back to the Finals, as the Lakers got a crash course in a quick, dynamic offensive team that was just as quick on defense (which they did not face in the Western Conference matchups, despite playing the Jazz in teh conference semis.)
But this is really about Boston. The chances for a repeat ought to be realistic — all three of the Big Three are in the early 30s, and they can keep most of those role players, so they can have a good shot at a repeat. Unless they happen to run against a team that plays as hard on defense as it does on offense, they could do it all over again.
Photo: AP/Winslow Townson