Note: First, I'd like to thank Hersey for the photo of Big Baby posing with the Larry O'Brien Trophy. (Supahstah!!) Second, excuse me if this post is rambling and poorly written. I've been waiting 22 years for this. As a consequence: I can't brain today. I have the dumb.
The Los Angeles Lakers: Damn. I mean...damn. Game 6 was a massacre. It was a slaughter of epic, even Biblical proportions. And I'm talking real wrath-of-God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years Forty-eight minutes of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...MASS HYSTERIA!
Okay. I think I've reached my quota of Waltonisms for the day.
But seriously, sitting -- and jumping, and dancing, and high-fiving -- through that carnage was the basketball-viewing equivalent of watching a kitten get skinned alive and dropped into a piranha tank. The Lakers lost by 39 points. I'm going to type that out again because I find it strangely erotic: L.A. lost by 39 freaking points. And yes, that is indeed an NBA Finals record for margin of victory in a championship clencher. The Celtics started the game intense, and that intensity seemed to grow and grow and kept on growing until the Laker spirit was broken like a little piece of something that is very breakable.
I have not witnessed a defeat so brutal -- so irrevocably and unquestionably final -- since this one time at Mardi Gras when an unnamed buddy dragged me back out to a bar at 4 a.m. so he could hook up with a skanky waitress who had clearly (to me at least) been flirting with him several hours previously for the express purpose of selling as many shots as possible. We found her crumpled against a wall and looking miserable. She had a tray with three shots left. My buddy went straight up to her and, with all the eagerness of a puppy humping a leg, asked when her shift ended. She said: "As soon as I sell these last three shots, I get to leave." He then asked what she was doing "later" (read that: can we have sex?). She groaned and replied: "I'm going home. I've been working for 12 hours straight. I'm so tired. And before I even came to work, my baby daddy grabbed me by the throat and slammed me against a wall. So it's been a long day." Then she kind of whimpered and added: "Please. I just wanna go home..."
My buddy pulled out a $20 bill and said: "I just want you to be happy." Then he wadded the cash into a ball, stuffed it back into his pocket, and walked away. That is pure and unfiltered superdickery, my friends. I think the poor girl would have burst into tears if she'd had any strength left. Either that or punk-slapped him. One or the other.
(For the record, he claims he does not remember doing this, and that he wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been almost-falling-down drunk. But he still laughs every time I retell the story, so I can't help but wonder...)
I have to admit: I had mixed feelings about the blowout. On the one hand, I loved it. I'm not going to pretend to be one of those fans who wants his team to win in thrilling, last-minute fashion. I like it when they secure the game early so I can wipe the sweat off my hands and just enjoy it. Plus, it eliminates any what-ifs. I mean, had the game been close, we might have had to listen all summer to Laker fans saying it could have gone either way.
On the other hand...it started to feel a little anti-climactic in the fourth quarter. Except for a spurt of aggression here or there, it felt like the Lakers were just playing out the clock. Or maybe it just felt that way. I don't know. It hasn't even been 24 hours and I feel like I'm losing a little perspective. So let me get into some individual insults...
Mark Jackson: This guy has been slobbing Kobe Bryant's knob since the playoffs started. Is he on the Lakers' payroll? Is he an official member of Mamba's posse? What's the deal? It reached the point where I made the conscious decision to smash my TV if I heard him call Kobe "the best player in the world" one more time. (Fortunately for me and my TV, I changed my mind.) During (I think) the second quarter last night, Jackson uttered the following brain-turd: "Paul Pierce realizes that Kobe Bryant is the better player, the best player in the world, but he says 'You know what, that doesn't mean I can't outplay him in a seven-game series.'" As Basketbawful reader Jin pointed out in an e-mail: "I'm not entirely sure, but doesn't outplaying someone in a seven-game series generally mean they aren't better than you, and that they aren't the best player in the world?" Generally, yes, that's exactly what it means.
Bottom line (and I've been saying this for years): Being the best scorer does not mean being the best player. Have we all finally learned this? Michael Jordan just so happened to be both the best scorer and the best player. Kobe is one but not the other. End of argument. (For now.) Speaking of Mamba...
Kobe Bryant: Kobe started out on fire in the first quarter -- 11 points, 4-for-5 shooting, a trio of triples -- just like in Game 5. And just like in Game 5, he cooled off in a big way. Actually, it was worse than a cooling off. It was a freaking Ice Age. Kobe scored 11 points and shot 3-for-15 over the final three quarters. He finished with 3 boards, 1 assist and 4 turnovers. And frankly, his performance didn't even feel that good. I haven't seen Mamba go down that meekly since that infamous Game 7 against the Suns in 2006.
Let it be known far and wide that, for this season at least, the Boston Celtics shut down Kobe Bryant. I mean, I honest-to-goodness stopped fearing him. Up until last night, I had been waiting for Kobe to have an Elgin Baylor game (so named for the time Elgin dropped 61 on the Celtics in the 1962 Finals). It didn't happen. And going into last night's game, I finally realized it wasn't going to happen. Not this year. Not against this team. Not against this defense.
Phil Jackson: The Lakers are young and, once Andrew Bynum gets back, they should be strong enough to contend for a title for the next three or four years (barring injury). So I guess he'll have another few cracks at surpassing Red Auerbach for most titles won by an NBA coach. But it didn't happen this year. Phil was outcoached by the combination of Doc Rivers (who knew exactly how to reach his players) and Tom Thibodeaux (whose defensive schemes, I'm convinced, could hold off an alien invasion). I love that this happened during the same season in which he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The best part is, his little faux Zen mind tricks didn't work. And they just made him look like the big, slimy douche he's always been (it just looks better when you're winning). He openly questioned and mocked Paul Pierce after his Game 1 knee injury, which would be fine if he was simply a fan...but as an opposing coach, that was pretty low class. He whined about the officiating in Game 2. He made unsubstantiated claims that Kevin Garnett was talking trash to Kobe after the Celtic comeback in Game 4. And last night he looked simply disgusted with his team for most of the night. And yeah, maybe he had a right to be, but it's hard not to compare his "I can't believe my guys are shitting the bed" reaction to Doc Rivers' "Don't stop believing!" mantra when his team was down 24 in Game 4. Phil's behavior led to greater disintegration. Doc's led to the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history. 'Nuff said.
Pau Gasol: I have dubbed him the Spanish Marshmallow, but now I have to question that decision. I'm not sure he's even that tough. He is soft and week. I read somewhere this morning that he was "terrified" of the expectations put on him by the Lakers organization and fans. Well, I can believe it. Hey, maybe that Kwame Brown trade wasn't such a steal after all. (I'm kidding; it totally was.)
For the record, people should not lay this loss at the feet of Lamar Odom. Yes, he shot 2-for-8. But he went to the line 16 times and had a team-high 10 rebounds. I'm just sayin'...
The Lakers' rebounding: They got pounded on the boards 48-29 and had only 2 offensive rebounds (one each for Kobe and Sasha Voojychick) compared to 14 for the Celtics.
The Lakers' butterfingers: They turned the ball over 19 times. And 18 of those were Celtic steals, which constituted an NBA Finals record for a single game. The Lakers big guns (Kobe, Gasol, Odom) had 12 of those bumbles.
Certain Lakers fans: The Purple and Gold army didn't get to watch Game 6 on the big screen at the Staples Center because of what happened during a similar setup for Game 2: A Celtics jersey was attacked by a mob and struck with a chair. Ultimately, this was probably a good thing for them. But still...what a bunch of idiots. Who does that? Lakers fans, apparently. (And no, I'm not laying this tag on all L.A. fans.)
Certain Celtics fans: Hey guys. I'm happy for the Celtics, too. But don't desecrate Red's statue, mmmkay? There's a right way to celebrate and a wrong way. That's the wrong way.
Speaking of which, several idiots were arrested in Boston after the game for "tearing apart park benches, flipping over flower pots, trash barrels, and newspaper boxes, and trying to light fires with the garbage." What is it about winning that makes people start acting like rabies victims? Want to see some of the damned fools in action? Here you go:
Michelle Tafoya: She provided more proof -- as if we needed any -- that all sideline reporters (with the possible exception of Cheryl Miller) are inane and useless. Look, ABC (and anyone else who broadcasts live sporting events): If you want window dressing, just hire a Hooters girl and show her on air every 10 minutes or so. We don't need updates like "This is taking a lot longer than it should to wash out an eye." Nor do we want them. I didn't just arrive on this planet. I know it takes about two seconds to wash out an eye, okay?
Kevin Garnett: He's my boy and all, but post-game interview with Michelle was insane enough to earn him a lifetime's worth of Tommy Points. I'm not going to say anything else about it. Watch for yourself.
Update! Sam Cassell: Oops. I almost forgot Sam-I-Am. Last night he earned two things: A DNP-CD and an NBA title. His game of championship piggyback is now complete. (Thanks for the reminder, Rainbow Brite.)
Update! NBA.com: Basketbawful readers Austen and Mithat both noticed that NBA.com thought the Lakers won 92-131 last night. And Mithat even got me a screen capture...
Update! Brian Scalabrine: Best. Press conference. Ever. I never knew Brian had such a cutting wit. Or any wit at all. (Thanks, Danny.)
Update! Me: In today's NBA Closer column on Deadspin, I noted that Rajon Rondo had a great game in the face of the fact that everybody outside of the Boston locker room had given up on him. I had also said, more than once, that he should have been benched in favor of Eddie House or even The Human Gun (aka Sam Cassell). The Lakers has so disregarded his offense that Rondo looked afraid to shoot, especially in L.A. To his credit, he came out aggressive last night. And even though he wasn't hitting early, he kept jacking it up and finished with 21 points on a team-high 20 shots. Moreover, his aggressiveness spilled over onto the defensive end, where he had a game-high 6 steals (the entire Laker team, by contrast, had a total of 4 steals). My point: Doc knew what he was doing in sticking by the kid...and I was wrong.