I don’t know if I’ve ever seen as unsightly a Game 7 as the one played last night between the Lakers and Celtics for the NBA title. At one point, Jeff Van Gundy said that it was one of the worst displays of offensive execution and one of the hardest, toughest defensive efforts too. The defense played by both teams was terrific, and the offense was horrid. Hear that clang? More paint being chipped off the rim. Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, name the player, they all missed a ton of shots. Ron Artest turned out to be one of the heroes for the Lakers and he missed a lot of shots too (it is somehow fitting that a junkyard dog like Artest would be the key to victory in such an ugly game).
It was the kind of game that made you want to sit up and yell at the TV, “Can’t anybody make a jump shot?”
Bryant didn’t only miss, he forced the action and took bad shots in traffic. He turned the ball over. Phil Jackson said that Byrant was pressing; after the game, Bryant, who was named the Finals MVP, said that he was exhausted. It would have gone down as his worst moment as a pro had the Lakers lost. But the Celtics didn’t bury Los Angeles when they had the chance–up nine, up thirteen–and in the end the Lakers were just too long, and they dominated the boards.
Sure, the Lakers got some calls, but for the most part the refs let both teams play. And in the end, the Lakers survived their own offensive futility by hitting a few big shots down the stretch (including the expected lollipop three pointer from Derek Fisher) and finally made their free-throws.
It wasn’t pretty at all. In fact, this game felt like the demon child of the Pistons-Knicks Era style of mug-’em hoops. By the middle of the forth quarter, all of the players looked more like heavyweight fighters in the 15th round, as if they were moving under water. It was an agonizing game to watch, and yet as bad as the offense was, the game was always competitive, never boring. And the entire season came down to the final minutes between the Lakers and Celtics. In our imaginations it should have looked better, prettier, more spectacular, but you couldn’t have asked for more passion or determination.
Just for someone to nail an open jumper.
Lastly, great night for Queens, so okay, Ron Ron, I’ll say it: Queensbridge, baby:
[Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez, Jae C. Hong, Christian Petersen, Lisa Blumenfeld: Getty Images]